I personally know appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. To call him qualified for the role is a massive understatement.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006. Previously, he served in multiple clerkships, including one for Justice Kennedy. In fact, several of his opinions have been adopted by the Supreme Court.
As a judge, Kavanaugh has a solid track record that reveals a consistent fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and a brilliant legal mind. The people who know him best overwhelmingly agree.
Kavanaugh’s former law clerks have vouched for the judge’s terrific credentials.
"We never once saw him take a shortcut, treat a case as unimportant, or search for an easy answer," a letter signed by 34 of Kavanaugh’s former law clerks states. "Instead, in each case, large or small, he masters every detail and rereads every precedent. He listens carefully to the views of his colleagues and clerks, even — indeed, especially — when they differ from his own."
My Solicitor General in Florida, Amit Agarwal, also clerked for Judge Kavanaugh and says, "Judge Kavanaugh is a brilliant judge, approaches each case with an open mind, and is an extraordinarily kind and decent person."
Even a pre-eminent liberal legal scholar believes Kavanaugh is a great candidate for the job and should be confirmed. Writing in the New York Times, Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar argued the president’s Supreme Court nominee "prioritizes the Constitution’s original meaning" and has "shown flashes of greatness."
It is clear Judge Kavanaugh will defend and uphold the Constitution and the rights of Floridians. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has no legitimate reason to oppose this respected jurist’s confirmation.
However, if Nelson’s previous record is any indication, he will oppose and obstruct Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Nelson voted against Kavanaugh’s circuit court appointment in 2006, which Kavanaugh won by a 21-vote margin with bipartisan support. Nelson also voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.
By February 2018, the Senate held roll call votes on 29 of President Trump’s 69 judicial nominations. Nelson voted against nearly one third of them.
Soon after the announcement of Kavanaugh’s nomination, Nelson tweeted a liberal litmus test for Judge Kavanaugh. Such questioning is antithetical to the role of a Supreme Court justice, who should be judged solely on his or her judicial record and willingness to set aside personal views on issues to uphold the Constitution as it was written.
Nelson must resist the obstructionists in his party who wish to turn the Supreme Court nomination into a political circus and do what is right for Florida and the rest of the country. He must make the simple choice to put politics aside and vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
Pam Bondi is the Florida attorney general.