Brett Kavanaugh is a stellar pick, whose name would have been at or near the top of any list of outstanding Republican nominees for the high court. As a longtime judge on the D.C. Circuit he has authored nearly 300 opinions, many in big cases hinging on constitutional issues such as the allocation of powers. Like Chief Justice John Roberts, whom in many ways he resembles, he has unusually close ties already with his eight new colleagues: his decisions on the appeals court have fared exceptionally well on review by the higher court and are often cited as authority there, and he acts as a “feeder judge” sending clerks to Justices across the Court’s ideological spectrum. His qualities of temperament and character are widely respected on all sides, and he is known for advancing diversity among the influential ranks of Supreme Court clerks by recruiting law graduates from many backgrounds.
Yale lawprof Akhil Amar is out with “A Liberal’s Case for Brett Kavanaugh” in the NYT. He writes:
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice is President Trump’s finest hour, his classiest move. Last week the president promised to select “someone with impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgment, and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States.” In picking Judge Kavanaugh, he has done just that.
In 2016, I strongly supported Hillary Clinton for president as well as President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. But today, with the exception of the current justices and Judge Garland, it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh.
Jonathan H. Adler on Kavanaugh’s extensive record striking down federal agency action (at least 75 times, according to the White House handout), including several major cases in which his rulings were upheld by the high court on appeal:
Judge Kavanaugh takes administrative law very seriously, and he makes agencies do their homework. As much as any other judge on the D.C. Circuit, he makes sure that agencies act within the scope of the authority they have been delegated by Congress, that they follow the procedures required by the APA, and that they adequately justify their decisions. This has often led to decisions invalidating agency action — both in challenges brought by supporters and opponents of regulation — but Judge Kavanaugh is not an anti-regulatory zealot. Where agencies play by the rules, he has upheld their actions against legal challenge, even where the actions in question may seem unreasonable or unfair.
Plus: Christopher Scalia Twitter thread on why the “theory that Trump picked him because he’d protect the president from indictment” is “nonsense”; Tony Mauro; Ken at Popehat on Kavanaugh’s (good) free-speech record. And Andrew Grossman on the Cato Daily Podcast praises Kavanaugh’s record on the D.C. Circuit, especially his willingness to hold federal agencies to the law rather than allow variance in the name of ambiguity or deference.