A Reflection On Senator Lisa Murkowski's 'No' Vote For Brett Kavanaugh

A Reflection On Senator Lisa Murkowski's 'No' Vote For Brett Kavanaugh

Over the weekend, I listened to Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski’s sobering Friday night speech on the Senate floor about why she’d decided to vote ‘no’ to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court Of The United States.

Murkowski explained that her decision to vote “no” was motivated by her concern that confirming Kavanaugh would further erode the already waning trust people have in their government, especially after such a vitriolic, partisan fight. She said:

We are at a time when many in this country have lost faith in the executive branch. And here in Congress, many around the country have just given up on us. They’ve just completely said, ‘We’ve had enough.’”

Where’s the public confidence?

But people still have hope in the judiciary as an independent, nonpartisan, fair and balanced branch, Murkowski said. “It’s that hope that I seek to maintain ... because it is so critical that we have that public confidence in at least one of our three branches of government.”

When it came to her decision on Kavanaugh, Murkowski said she looked to the Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 1.2, which states that a judge must “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.”

“A judge shall act at all times - not just sometimes when you’re wearing your robe - in a manner that promotes public confidence,” she said. “Public confidence. Where’s the public confidence?”

Kavanaugh failed to meet that standard

Murkowski referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 27th September at which Kavanaugh - flushed with anger at times, weeping at others - blamed Democrats who he accused of acting out of vengeance.

“It became clear to me, or it was becoming clearer, that that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable,” Murkowski said. “I could not conclude he is the right person for the court at this time.”

The importance of faith in our institutions

One long serving federal judge said in response to Murkowski’s speech that she’d “hit the nail on the head” on a subject many want to ignore: namely how imperative it is that people have faith in the courts.

“It’s not WHAT we address, it’s HOW we address it that can either heal or harm,” the judge said in an email. “Much harm has been done [by Kavanaugh’s confirmation process]. For those of us who care deeply about people, institutions and decency in debate and disagreement, it is a painful time.”

In her speech, Murkowski explained that she’d agonised over her vote but ultimately acted in accordance with her conscience.

“I am really worried that this becomes the new normal, where we find new and even more creative ways to tear one another down,” she said. “The hateful, the aggressive, the truly, truly awful manner which with so many are acting now has got to end. This is not who we are. This is not who we should be.”

Values-based leadership

Lisa Murkowski’s speech really struck a chord with me, notably her remarks about public confidence. Back in June, I wrote an article titled How Business Can Restore Trust In Our Institutions. In that article, I explored some of the undercurrents that have affected public confidence in our institutions, and how faith can be restored. Spoiler: the answer is values-based leadership.

Murkowski’s speech reminded me of three of the core values which underpin the way I endeavour to live my life, run my business and act as a leader. Decency. Fairness. Grace.

  • Decency: behaviour that conforms to accepted standards of morality or respectability. E.g. propriety, etiquette, civility, thoughtfulness, fitness and suitability.

  • Fairness: impartial and just treatment or behaviour without favouritism or discrimination. E.g. unbiased, fair-minded, impartial, non-partisan and objective.

  • Grace: courteous good will. E.g. thoughtfulness, diplomacy, decency, kindliness, poise and refinement.

Knowing your True North

Many people disagreed with Murkowski’s decision to vote ‘no.’ And many others were critical that she ‘paired her vote’ with that of Senator Daines whose daughter was getting married last weekend, arguing that it wasn’t a ‘real vote.’

I disagreed with some of Murkowski’s reasoning, particularly where it related to the allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.But I didn’t doubt for one moment her thoughtfulness, sincerity or integrity. I believe Murkowski acted in accordance with her True North.

Our True North - values unique to each of us – is the internal compass that guides us through life, representing who we are at our deepest level. Our True North is based on our beliefs, our most cherished values and our passions and motivations. In refusing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Lisa Murkowski was true to her values. And she reminded me of the three values I hold most dear.

Question: Which values do you hold most dear? I love reading your thoughts. So please do take a moment to tell me in the comments box below.

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