In a move that surprised some, a powerful U.S. senator left Washington, D.C. on Friday.
According to reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, for the swearing-in ceremony of a newly-confirmed federal judge.
A trip to Kentucky
The Courier-Journal reported that McConnell was joined on his trip by the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Both men, it appears, were eager to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Justin Walker.
Kavanaugh’s interest in the event was no surprise, as Walker previously served as one of Kavanaugh’s law clerks prior to his ascension to the high court. Because of this connection, Kavanaugh led Friday’s swearing-in event.
“In this time of challenge,” Kavanaugh said, “we gather here today to participate in a judicial investiture and recall our shared commitment to the constitution and to the principle of equal justice under law.”
Judicial investiture is the official terminology used for the ceremonial swearing-in of new members of the bench.
Tough confirmation battles
In a very real sense, the three men — McConnell, Kavanaugh, and Walker — are all deeply connected. McConnell, for example, worked hard to get both men through the confirmation process despite bitter opposition from Democrats.
Most Americans will remember the hostile confirmation process the surrounded Kavanaugh in the autumn of 2018. It was when Christine Blasey Ford and others accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Ford’s claims, however, proved to be highly questionable at best, and Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate in a 50–48 vote.
During that contentious process, it was Walker, in his capacity as a former law clerk of Kavanaugh’s, who came forward to vigorously defend his former boss. “Kavanaugh is also a person of impeccable character,” Walker wrote in an op-ed at the time. “I’ve heard him speak passionately about the importance of family, equality and public service, and I’ve witnessed him live those values in his everyday life.”
Walker similarly saw his own judicial nomination face significant opposition last fall from such liberal advocacy groups as The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.
“Mr. Walker’s nomination is a triumph of nepotism over neutrality,” the group claimed back in 2019 when President Donald Trump nominated him. “He is a right-wing partisan operative who has been deemed unqualified to serve as a federal judge by the American Bar Association (“ABA”). The Senate must refuse to confirm him to a lifetime appointment on the federal judiciary.”
Thankfully, both Kavanaugh and Walker were able to withstand the partisan-driven obstructionism, and now our judicial system is quite a bit stronger for it.