Kavanaugh calls Kennedy a 'mentor' and a 'friend' in opening statement

Kavanaugh calls Kennedy a 'mentor' and a 'friend' in opening statement
© Anna Moneymaker

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, will stress the importance of judicial independence and teamwork during his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing Tuesday.

In the statement, excerpts of which were released by the White House, Kavanaugh stresses that he has worked to not favor prosecutors or defendants in his career, and assures senators that he will not decide cases based on policy positions.

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"A good judge must be an umpire — a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy. … I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge," he says in the remarks.

"To me, Justice Kennedy is a mentor, a friend, and a hero," Kavanaugh added of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat he has been nominated to take on the court.

"As a member of the court, he was a model of civility and collegiality. He fiercely defended the independence of the Judiciary. And he was a champion of liberty," Kavanaugh added.

Kavanaugh, who was nominated by Trump in July to succeed Kennedy, is set to face senators at his confirmation hearing Tuesday, where he will be introduced by several top Republicans including Ohio Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes Senate fails to override Trump veto over emergency declaration MORE and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Kavanaugh also appears to offer laurels to Democrats in his opening remarks and praises Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandSupreme Court can prove its independence — or its partisan capture The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems seize on Ukraine transcript in impeachment fight Brett Kavanaugh debate exemplifies culture war between left and right MORE, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who was unsuccessfully nominated to the Supreme Court during former President Obama's last year in office.

"I have served with 17 other judges, each of them a colleague and a friend, on a court now led by our superb chief judge, Merrick Garland," Kavanaugh says.

"If confirmed to the court, I would be part of a team of nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States," he added. "I would always strive to be a team player on the team of nine."

Democrats had sought to block or delay Kavanaugh's nomination following the guilty plea of Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, last month on charges of tax and bank fraud after Cohen implicated the president in a hush money scheme before the 2016 election.

Every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee signed a letter to Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate MORE (R-Iowa), urging him to delay the nomination over the development.

Democrats need one Republican vote to stop Kavanaugh's nomination in the Senate, assuming that every Democratic senator votes against his nomination.

— This report was updated at 7:58 a.m.