For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 1, 2006
President Attends Swearing-In Ceremony for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
The Rose Garden
In Focus: Judicial Nominations
1:06 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Thanks for coming. Welcome to the Rose Garden where, in a few moments, Brett Kavanaugh will be sworn in as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Today, a court that is often considered the second-highest in our land gains a brilliant and talented new member. The staff of the White House celebrates a friend they admire and a colleague they will miss. I congratulate a good man and a fine public servant on a job well done.
I'm especially pleased to be with Brett's wife, Ashley -- (laughter) -- whose face I know well and whose marriage was the first lifetime appointment I arranged for Brett. (Laughter and applause.)
We welcome Brett's parents, Martha and Ed, and his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Nancy and John Estes from Abilene, Texas.
I welcome the star of Brett's most recent televised hearing, Margaret Murphy Kavanaugh. (Laughter.) Margaret has his mother's -- has her mother's good looks, and her dad's preference for hearings that do not last too long. (Laughter.)
We're honored this afternoon by the presence of Justice Anthony Kennedy who hired Brett as a law clerk more than a decade ago. He now welcomes him as a fellow judge. And I'm also pleased that Mary Kennedy is with us today. Thanks for coming.
The Vice President has joined us. Mr. Vice President, welcome. Appreciate Al -- Attorney General Al Gonzales for being here. And former Attorney General John Ashcroft is with us, as well. I want to extend a warm welcome to Brett's new colleagues on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Thank you all for coming.
The power to nominate judges is one of the most serious responsibilities the Constitution gives the President. Our founders thought carefully about the role they wanted judges to play in the American Republic. They decided on a court system that would be free of political and public pressure with judges who are prudent in exercising judicial power and firm in defending judicial independence.
When a President chooses a judge, he owes it to the Constitution and to the country to choose with care, and I have done so in choosing Brett Kavanaugh. I chose Brett because of the force of his mind, his breadth of experience, and the strength of his character.
Brett grew up in Maryland. In high school, he distinguished himself both in academics and athletics. He graduated from Yale with honors. What did that feel like? (Laughter.) He stayed at Yale to earn his law degree. Brett was an editor of the Yale Law Review, and impressed all around him with his mastery of the law and his strong work ethic.
After Yale, he embarked on a law career that has spanned judicial -- on a career that has spanned the judicial branch, the executive branch, and the private sector. He clerked for Judges Walter Stapleton and Alex Kozinski on the federal appellate courts, and for Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. He served in the Solicitor General's Office and in the Office of the Independent Counsel. He was a partner in a leading national law firm. For the past five years, he has served in the White House as Associate Counsel, a senior Associate Counsel, and as Staff Secretary.
Over his career, he's argued cases before the Supreme Court, appellate courts, and trial courts. He has given his time and talent to provide legal services for those in need. He's earned a reputation for integrity and independence. Bretts abilities and professionalism have been recognized by members of both political parties. After I nominated Brett, a bipartisan group of his law school classmates wrote a letter of support saying Brett would bring credit to the distinguished court to which he has been nominated.
Brett's nomination also earned the backing of many leaders of the Bar, including former attorney generals of both parties. And in three separate evaluations by the American Bar Association, all 42 reviewers rated him as well qualified or qualified to serve on the federal bench.
In the history of the D.C. Circuit, no judge has undergone a more thorough and rigorous confirmation process. And all who watched this process saw what I know: That he's a man of fairness, humility, and a reverence for the laws and the Constitution of our country.
Brett Kavanaugh is one of the many highly qualified men and women I've nominated to the federal courts. These nominees come from many different backgrounds, and they bring different experiences to the bench. Yet they all have met the same high standards of legal ability, temperament and judgment. I'll continue to fulfill my responsibility to nominate men and women of character and integrity who administer the law and not legislate from the bench. And I call upon the United States Senate to meet its responsibility to give every nominee a fair hearing and a timely up or down vote.
When Brett Kavanaugh takes his oath this afternoon, he will carry on a fine family tradition. His mother, Martha, was a public school teacher in the District of Columbia and went on to serve as a prosecutor and a state judge in Maryland. Martha instilled in her son a passion for service and raised him to be true to the motto of his Jesuit high school: "Men for others."
Throughout his life, Brett has used his many talents to serve others, and today he walks a new path of service: to administer justice equally, impartially, without fear or favor. Our nation is fortunate that Brett Kavanaugh has accepted these responsibilities, and I'm proud to stand with Brett as he takes his place as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. And now I ask Justice Kennedy to administer the oath.
(The oath is administered.) (Applause.)
MR. KAVANAUGH: Mr. President, I am honored to have served you and the presidency for the last five-and-a-half years. Ashley and I leave with the deepest gratitude to you and to Mrs. Bush for the many personal courtesies you've extended to us over the years. I depart with the greatest respect for the presidency and for you.
I carry with me a wealth of experiences that I will never forget, lessons that I will never discard, and friends who I'll never lose. Sir, thank you for the privilege of working here, and thank you for the honor of nominating me to the Court.
I also appreciate the opportunity to have served under the Vice President and under Chiefs of Staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten. The White House staff are dedicated public servants who have been good colleagues and good friends, and I'll miss working with all of you very much.
Many members of the administration worked very hard on my nomination. I appreciate former Attorney General Ashcroft for being here. Judge Gonzales was with me at the starting line, and he was right there with me at the finish line, and I'm always going to be grateful to him. Harriet Miers, David Leitch, Bill Kelley, Dabney Friedrich and Kristi Macklin all spent a lot of long hours, and I thank them. And I thank all the colleagues and friends who have helped me along the way.
I appreciate the Senate, and particularly Senators Frist, McConnell, Specter and Hatch for all their efforts and their strong support.
I now join the judicial branch. Justice Kennedy, thank you for administering the oath, and thank you and Mrs. Kennedy for being here.
Thirty one years ago today, a young Anthony Kennedy took the oath to be a court of appeals judge. Since then he has taught all of his law clerks that the Constitution of the United States is a compact between generations that must be preserved and revered and cherished and passed on. I feel that lesson very powerfully today. And I assume my new responsibilities with humility.
I clerked for two exceptional court of appeals judges, Alex Kozinski and Walter Stapleton, and I'll try to live up to their model of independence and integrity. I've benefited as a lawyer and as a person from my work for Judge Starr, who has always combined devotion to the rule of law with great personal decency. Chief Judge Ginsburg and distinguished judges of the D.C. Circuit, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve with each one of you. And I'm proud to be filling the seat that was held by Judge Laurence Silberman, who continues his extraordinary service to country and to law.
In the Kavanaugh family, Judge Kavanaugh will always be my mom. My mom and dad have been married for 43 years. Almost as impressive, they have sat through two Senate confirmation hearings without changing their facial expressions. (Laughter.) I will continue to follow their lesson and to be a man for others.
Ashley and our little girl Margaret are a daily inspiration. Ashley, as the President noted, is from Abilene, Texas. For those of you who don't know much about Texas geography, it's about halfway between Dallas and Midland. Ashley's parents are here, and I thank them for coming. Ashley likes to remind me that true love, true love is a Texas girl who is willing to marry a guy with a lifetime appointment in Washington, D.C. (Laughter.)
I revere the law, and I'll do my best every day to live up to the great trust that has been placed in me. I'll exercise the judicial power with modesty and restraint. I'll interpret the law as written. And at all times, I'll work to maintain the absolute independence of the judiciary, which, in my judgment, is the crown jewel of our constitutional democracy. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 1:18 P.M. EDT