Judiciary

Sasse Provides Civics Lesson During Kavanaugh Hearing

The senator from Nebraska eloquently explains why confirmation hearings have become so political.

Political Editors · Sep. 5, 2018

In the midst of a Democrat-created circus intent on obstructing as much of the Senate’s confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, as possible, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) offered a timely rebuke and an insightful civics lesson.

In just under 12 minutes, Sasse outlined the constitutional roles of the three branches of government and followed that by explaining why the confirmation of judicial nominees has become so politicized — something the Founders never intended. Sasse diagnoses the root of the problem as the legislative branch having abdicated its constitutional power to career-minded, unelected bureaucrats within the executive branch agencies:

The real reason, at the end of the day, that this institution punts most of its power to executive branch agencies is because it is a convenient way for legislators to be able to avoid taking responsibility for controversial and often unpopular decisions. If people want to get reelected over and over and over again, and that’s your highest goal — if your biggest long-term thought around here is about your own incumbency — then actually giving away your power is a pretty good strategy. … And so, at the end of the day, a lot of the power delegation that happens from this branch is because the Congress has decided to self-neuter.

Sasse then eloquently noted how this abdication of power by Congress has ultimately undermined the voting power of every American citizen:

The important thing isn’t whether Congress has lame jobs; the important thing is that when Congress neuters itself and gives power to an unaccountable fourth branch of government, it means the people are cut out of the process.

So, ultimately when the Congress is neutered, when the administrative state grows, when there is this fourth branch of government, it makes it harder and harder for the concerns of citizens to be represented and articulated by people, that the people know they have power over. All the power, or almost all the power, right now happens offstage. And that leaves a lot of people wondering, “Who’s looking out for me?”

He then concluded by boiling down the only truly legitimate thing senators need to consider for deciding on Kavanaugh:

So the question we have before us today is not what did Brett Kavanaugh think 11 years ago on some policy matter. The question before us is whether or not he has the temperament and the character to take his policy views and political preferences and put them in a box marked “irrelevant” and set it aside every morning when he puts on the black robe. The question is, “Does he have the character and temperament to do that?” If you don’t think he does, vote no. But if you think he does, stop the charades. Because, at the end of the day, I think all of us know that Brett Kavanaugh understands that his job isn’t to rewrite laws as he wishes they were. He understands that he’s not being interviewed to be a super legislator. He understands that his job isn’t to seek popularity. His job is to be fair and dispassionate. It is not to exercise empathy. It is to follow written laws.

Ultimately, Sasse accurately articulated what really matters. The rest of the antics in the Senate yesterday were just the sideshow.


Here are Sasse’s comments in their entirety — well worth viewing:

Click here to show comments