Kavanaugh: 'No One Is Above the Law,' US v. Nixon Was Great Moment in Judicial History


Judge Brett Kavanaugh stated during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Wednesday that “no one is above the law” and United States v. Nixon is “one of the greatest moments in American judicial history.”

Kavanaugh’s comments came in response to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, questioning the nominee about what makes a good federal judge.

“I think the first quality of a good judge in our constitutional system is independence,” Kavanaugh replied. “Independence comes directly from Article III of the Constitution.”

“(In) the great moments in American judicial history, the judges had backbone and independence,” he explained.

He cited Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), when the Supreme Court ruled President Harry Truman could not order the government to take over steel facilities in the midst of a labor dispute in order to ensure production continued during the Korean War.

White House Correspondents' Association Hits Back at Biden After He Gets Testy with Reporter in Europe

Kavanaugh also pointed to Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which ruled local governments could not establish separate schools for black and white students.

He then said, “You think about United States versus Nixon, which I’ve identified as one of the greatest moments in American judicial history, where Chief Justice (Warren) Burger who had been appointed by President (Richard) Nixon brought the court together in a unanimous decision to order President Nixon in a response to a criminal trial subpoenaed to disclose information.”

Do you agree no one should be above the law?

The 1974 case arose from the Watergate scandal, when Republican operatives broke into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington during the 1972 presidential campaign.

Special prosecutor Leon Jaworski obtained a subpoena ordering Nixon to turn over tapes of conversations held in the White House believed to be related to figures who had been indicted in the scandal. The president had not been brought up on charges.

Nixon’s attorneys countered that the tapes fell under executive privilege and not subject to court orders. The justices ruled otherwise. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

Kavanaugh told Grassley, “No one is above the law in our constitutional system.”

“Under our system of government, the executive branch is subject to the law, subject to the court system,” he said. “It is an important part of the constitutional structure.”

Justice Kavanaugh's Dark Prediction About What Happens to America if Politically Motivated Charges Are Allowed Against Trump

The Washington Post had described Kavanaugh’s views on U.S. v. Nixon as “murky” in a story last month.

The paper reported Kavanaugh saying during a 1999 panel discussion, “maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch . . . that was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not fully appreciate.”

The Post acknowledged he has praised the decision since.

One of the critiques raised by Democrat lawmakers following Kavanaugh’s nomination is that President Donald Trump chose him is because of the judge’s views on whether a president can be criminally prosecuted, given the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Democrats seized a 2009 law review article in which Kavanaugh made the case that presidents should be shielded from criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits while in office. He argued their responsibilities as chief executive and commander in chief are so demanding, they cannot fairly defend themselves in court and carry out their duties.

The judge did not contend presidents should be above the law, but rather that legal action should be delayed until after they left or were removed from office.

Kavanaugh acknowledged such a provision could only happen through congressional legislation. He further noted such a law would in no way impact Congress’ power to impeach the chief executive.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith