13:35, May 08 42 0 abajournal.com

2019-05-08 13:35:06
In first major appearance since confirmation, Kavanaugh stresses civility and independence

Brett Kavanaugh

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh is drafting opinions and asking oral argument questions, he often asks himself, “What would Justice Kennedy do?” Kavanaugh appeared with retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Monday in the new justice’s first major appearance since a confirmation battle marked by accusations of sexual assault—allegations strongly denied by Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh referred to Kennedy’s “legacy of civility” and said he tried to match that style, according to coverage by CNN and the Wall Street Journal.

During a Q-and-A session before judges and lawyers in Milwaukee, Kavanaugh and Kennedy said they agreed with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. when he said, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.” Roberts had made the statement after President Donald Trump criticized “an Obama judge” who ruled against him.

“We owe our allegiance to the Constitution,” Kavanaugh said, as he pulled out a pocket copy of the Constitution. Kennedy had signed it. Kavanaugh once clerked for Kennedy and replaced him on the Supreme Court.

In response to a question about a decline in civility in society, Kennedy sounded pessimistic. “We’re still too overconfident that democracy can survive without conscious effort. But that’s not true,” he said.

On another topic, Kavanaugh said technology advances will force a reexamination of free speech, war powers and privacy rights, according to the Wall Street Journal story.

Technology will strain traditional understandings of these issues, posing “a huge challenge for our system of separation of powers and a huge challenge for all of us as judges and as citizens,” he said.

One issue unforeseen by the founders, he said, is the division of authority between the president and Congress “when war is not waged with … armies en masse but instead is accomplished by cyberwar.”

Kavanaugh and Kennedy appeared at a judicial conference for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago. Kavanaugh has been assigned to handle emergency petitions from the region, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.