Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. promised Tuesday to keep the Supreme Court independent from political drama and infighting after the heated partisan battle clouded the confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Speaking at the University of Minnesota, Justice Roberts wanted to address “the contentious events” that captured the nation’s attention.
Justice Roberts declined to criticize the other branches of government over the confirmation process and rather focused on the importance of an independent high court.
“It’s a small thing perhaps, but it is a repeated reminder that, as our newest colleague put it, we do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest,” Justice Roberts said.
The chief justice explained that without separating from the political fray, the court has “erred greatly.” He cautioned that with politically influenced decisions, there would have never been landmark rulings like Brown v. Board of Education.
“I have great respect for our public officials. After all, they speak for the people,” Justice Roberts said. “We do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution.”
The chief justice said the newest addition to the Supreme Court makes the other eight “behave better.” He said that on Justice Kavanaugh’s first day, none of the justices overlapped on questioning, and opening arguments were sharper.
“It is like having a new in-law at Thanksgiving dinner. Uncle Fred will put on a clean shirt,” Justice Roberts joked.
Prior to his confirmation, many critics argued that then-Judge Kavanaugh displayed a partisan temperament during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused on the sexual assault allegations against him.
The judge delivered a fiery defense that argued the allegations were part of a smear campaign orchestrated by the Democrats to derail his nomination at any cost. Before the confirmation vote, he penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal to address his remarks, explaining that he was speaking as a father, husband and dad.