Sen. Murkowski Defends ‘No’ Vote on Kavanaugh: ‘Appearance of Impropriety’ Became ‘Unavoidable’

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) delivered remarks on the Senate floor on Friday explaining her decision to vote “no” on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

In a statement Friday morning, Murkowski said that she believes “Brett Kavanaugh’s a good man. It just may be that in my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time.”

During her speech on the Senate floor Friday evening, she seemed conflicted, on one hand saying that the confirmation process was unfair to Kavanaugh and that the standards that Supreme Court nominees are held to are possibly unfairly high in the face of “horrific allegations that go to your integrity, that go to everything that you are.”

On the other hand, after watching his testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, she felt that Kavanaugh did not live up to the code of judicial conduct, particularly rule 1.2 that states, “A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”

She said that after the hearing, his “appearance of impropriety” became “unavoidable,” and that’s what made her ultimately choose to vote “no.”  

Murkowski explained,

The reason I could not support Judge Kavanaugh in this cloture motion this afternoon is that my role, my responsibility as one senator on this floor, I take this obligation that we have … as seriously as anything that I am obligated or privileged to be able to go on. And so, I have a very high standard. I have a very high bar for any nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States. The code of judicial conduct rule 1.2 … it states that ‘the judge act at all times in a manner that promotes pubic confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. I look to that. It is pretty high. It is really high. That a judge shall act at all times – not just sometimes, not just when you wear your robe – in a manner that promotes public confidence. Where’s the public confidence?

Murkowski went on to say that it may be unfair to ask a person to meet that standard, “even in the face” of sexual assault allegations and overtly politicized proceedings, but she said that she was “reminded, there are only nine seats on the bench of the highest court of the land.”

“After the hearing that we all watched, it became clear to me that that appearance of impropriety [had] become unavoidable,” said Murkowski. “I had been deliberating, agonizing about what is fair,” she continued. “Is this too unfair a burden to place on somebody that is feeling with the worst, the most horrific allegations that go to your integrity, that go to everything that you are? I think we all struggle with how we would respond."

"But I am reminded, there are only nine seats on the bench of the highest court of the land. And these seats are occupied by these men and women for their lifetime," she said. "And so, those who seek one of these seats, must meet the highest standard in all respects at all times, and that is hard.”

 

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