Open Letter to Lisa Murkowski on Her Vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Senator Murkowski:

Your vote this morning against moving forward the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has put Alaska in the national spotlight. Accordingly, I read with great interest the remarks you made to the press immediately after your vote, especially your comment about Brett Kavanaugh being a good man and this not being about his qualifications.

I had thought, and many Alaskans with me, that this vote was exactly about Kavanaugh’s qualifications and whether the president has accurately gauged those qualifications in nominating him to the Supreme Court. Your remark has caused me to reflect more deeply on this.

I was reminded this morning of your earlier vote on moving forward the judicial confirmation of Caitlin Halligan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the same position that Judge Kavanaugh now holds. As you will no doubt remember, beginning in 2011, President Obama nominated Halligan to the DC Circuit three separate times in three different years. Each time, the senate rejected her nomination. In the words of current Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, “We think she’s an activist, we think she’s got gun problems.”

Chairman Grassley proved to be a master of understatement that day. In her public life, Halligan made clear that it was her goal to use the courts to bankrupt every single gun manufacturer in the United States by making each of them legally liable if someone were to commit a crime using a firearm they had manufactured.

The National Rifle Association, The Gun Owners of America and The National Association for Gun Rights, in separate letters, each appraised Alaskans of the existential threat that such a judge would pose to our rights as Americans to purchase and own firearms.

This appointment was especially concerning since the D.C. Circuit Court is widely viewed as a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, four out of nine currently serving justices will have served on the DC Circuit Court immediately before serving on the Supreme Court.

And yet, when it came time to move forward the confirmation of this transparently anti-gun, anti-constitution activist, you voted against every other Republican Senator to move Halligan’s confirmation forward. In fact, each time Halligan’s nomination came to a cloture vote you voted repeatedly against your Republican colleagues to move her confirmation forward.

At the time, you explained your vote by saying “I stated during the Bush Administration that judicial nominations deserved an up or down vote, except in “extraordinary circumstances” and my position has not changed simply because there is a different President making the nominations.”

Today you voted to deny Judge Kavanaugh the same up or down vote that you believed Obama’s judicial nominees deserved. It is difficult for me to reconcile your vote this morning with your explanation of your earlier confirmation votes. May I ask what these extraordinary circumstances are that led you to vote against a Trump appointee who will stand for Alaskans’ 2nd Amendment constitutional rights, when in your last term of office you voted repeatedly to forward an Obama appointee who embarked on a public and transparently political campaign against those very same rights?

You said this morning that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man, and that this vote was not about his qualifications but about the credibility and integrity of our institutions and victims who feel there is no fairness in our government. It is as though you are saying with your vote this morning, that you disapprove of the lack of fairness in our government and that you are going to demonstrate your disapproval by adding to that unfairness and voting against a good man who you agree is personally qualified to receive the nomination he has been given by the president.

One thing I know, unfairness will not be turned back through practicing further unfairness in our institutions. There are those who preach that two wrongs can make a right in this case. They are wrong.

The credibility and integrity of our institutions is determined by the very types of votes the senate held this morning. Will Alaska’s vote be cast in a way that is fair to the person being nominated, or will it be used to give undeserved credibility to a process that has been palpably unfair to everyone involved?

For the sake of both your credibility and integrity, and that of our public institutions, I ask that you reconsider the reasons for your vote this morning, and give President Trump’s nominee the same respect that you gave to President Obama’s nominees. As a good man, he deserves no less from Alaska’s senior senator.

Rep. David Eastman has served in the Alaska State House representing the Mat-Su since 2017; He ran on a platform of fighting for genuine conservative reform, fiscally and socially, and remains committed to delivering on that promise.