Mere minutes after President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick for Supreme Court justice, reactions from Montana’s political leaders rolled in.
Montana Republicans urged Congress to quickly confirm the nominee, citing his conservative reading of the U.S. Constitution. Democrats, including Sen. Jon Tester and House candidate Kathleen Williams, said Congress should vet the nominee according to its requirements.
“President Trump has again nominated a constitutional conservative who will interpret our laws, not make laws from the bench,” said Rep. Greg Gianforte. “Given his background and record, I am confident Judge Kavanaugh will make an extraordinary justice who will adhere to America’s constitutional principles and protect our freedoms. The Senate should quickly confirm President Trump’s well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court.”
Gianforte wasn’t alone in his urging of a quick confirmation. Americans for Prosperity, a dark-money political action committee at odds with the Montana Office of Political Practices, fired off a statement moments before Gianforte urging Tester to follow suit and adhere to Trump’s wishes.
“First Justice Gorsuch, now Brett Kavanaugh – the President has kept his promise to nominate jurists who will faithfully protect the fundamental freedoms enshrined in our Constitution,” the organization’s Montana director, David Herbst, said. “Judge Kavanaugh’s record indicates he will interpret the Constitution as written and will not legislate from the bench. AFP-MT urges Senator Tester to put partisan politics aside and vote to confirm this eminently qualified jurist.”
Kavanaugh graduated from Yale Law School and served as a clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy. During his 12 years on the bench, conservative supporters contend, Kavanaugh demonstrated a commitment to the rule of law and is widely respected for his principled approach to interpreting the Constitution as written.
Montana Sen. Steve Daines said Kavanaugh had an “impressive background.”
“As a United States senator, confirming a Supreme Court justice is one of the most consequential votes I will take,” Daines said. “Brett Kavanaugh has an impressive background and excellent experience. I look forward to meeting with the nominee and reviewing their judicial record to ensure we are putting the most qualified justice on the highest court to defend the United States Constitution.”
Tester, a Democrat up for reelection, took a similar tact, saying he planned on meeting with Kavanaugh in the coming weeks.
“I take my constitutional duty to screen the president’s nominees very seriously, and in the coming weeks I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh,” Tester said. “Montanans have a lot on the line with this next Supreme Court justice, so I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put politics aside and do what’s best for this nation.”
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox had already made up his mind, urging the Senate to quickly confirm the appointment.
“President Trump made an excellent decision,” Fox said. “Judge Kavanaugh is a brilliant jurist with a proven record of objectively interpreting laws and the Constitution. I urge the United States Senate to give this nomination adequate consideration, followed by swift confirmation.”
Republicans balked at giving President Barack Obama’s nominee a confirmation hearing in 2016, saying it was an election year. This time around, however, they suggested that was a presidential election year, which the 2018 election is not.
Gov. Steve Bullock urged Congress to do its due diligence and vet the nominee.
“Our fundamental rights as Americans are at stake, from access to basic health care and a woman’s right to choose, to voting rights, workers’ rights and marriage equality. It is incumbent upon Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – to ensure any Supreme Court nominee respects the rights of Americans and rejects activists’ invitations to tinker with settled law.”
Kathleen Williams, who’s challenging Gianforte for his seat in the U.S. House, urged close scrutiny of Trump’s nominee, not a quick endorsement to appease party politics.
“I hope the Senate will take the time to aqeduately vet this nominee,” Williams said. “Rep. Gianforte has shown he won’t stand up for women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions. Montana women do not want Washington politicians coming between them and their doctor.”