United States Sen. Ben Sasse sees a big opportunity in wake of the announcement that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire.
“This kind of moment is why I went on the Judiciary Committee,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’ve already confirmed Neil Gorsuch and now we’re going to have another opportunity to add another serious constitutionalist to the court.”
Sasse, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will have a vote on whoever President Donald Trump nominates to the court. Sasse says though he has had his differences with the president, he views his judicial nominees as excellent.
Trump released a list of 25 potential judiciary nominees during the presidential election in 2016.
Kennedy was appointed to the US Supreme Court in 1988 by President Reagan. He has announced he will retire at the end of July.
Reagan nominated Kennedy in wake of the brutal confirmation hearings of Judge Robert Bork which eventually led to the Senate rejecting Bork.
Sasse believes the Bork hearings had an influence on how Kennedy viewed his role on the court.
“And so, when Kennedy went on the court 30 years ago, I think he saw himself as having a moderating, soothing obligation for the country that was now politicizing Supreme Court confirmation processes,” Sasse says. “So, I think in an unfortunate way, he’s associated with a more political view of the court.”
Sasse anticipates a rough confirmation process ahead.
“I think this is going to play out as a kind of red versus blue blood sport moment and it shouldn’t,” Sasses says. “We should aim higher than that. This is not how Supreme Court vacancies are supposed to work. A great Kennedy quote years ago is he said that, ‘Our system presumes that there are certain principles that are more important than the temper of the times.’”
Sasse says there needs to be a better distinction between the roles of the three branches of the federal government, especially concerning policy. He says Congress should make policy with the judiciary defending the Constitution.