Assistant Pro­fessor of Pol­itics and YAF Faculty Advisor Adam Car­rington. Katherine Scheu | Col­legian

On the evening of Sept. 26, Hillsdale College Assistant Pro­fessor of Pol­itics Adam Car­rington spoke to a group of stu­dents about what he called an “under-dis­cussed” angle of Brett Kavanaugh’s nom­i­nation to the Supreme Court.

“I think an element of the divide that is under-dis­cussed is two under­standings of the job, two the­ories about what judges should do,” Car­rington said.

Car­rington explained that what most see as a dis­tinction between Con­sti­tu­tional tex­tu­alism and the idea that the con­sti­tution is a living, breathing doc­ument, comes back to a more prin­ciple issue that pre­cedes party divi­sions.

Those who believe in a living con­sti­tution, Car­rington said, “reject the meta­physical dif­ference between the leg­islative and the judicial powers. The say it’s unavoidable, that all pol­itics is an act of will.”

Car­rington, pointing to “The Fed­er­alist” essays, rea­soned that the judicial branch has a very dif­ferent role from the leg­islative branch.

“What is a judge sup­posed to have? Neither force nor will, but merely judgement,” Car­rington said. “Judges are not sup­posed to exercise will, that’s the law­making power…judgement is an act of reason, sep­a­rated from will.”

The evening con­cluded with a question and answer session. One student asked how judicial precedent should be approached from the per­spective of a con­sti­tu­tional orig­i­nalist.

“I think prin­ci­pally, you have to say the con­sti­tution rules, and the con­sti­tution should rule out over any­thing,” Car­rington said. “We believe that it is the fun­da­mental doc­ument, precedent be darned. Pru­den­tially, however, it’s a tough question. If you get so far off what we believe to be con­sti­tu­tional, the health of the gov­ernment might depend up on whether you decide right then to blow it up or not.”

The event, hosted by Young Amer­icans for Freedom, opened the dis­cussion in lieu of the ongoing national con­ver­sation about Kavanaugh’s hearings in the senate judi­ciary com­mittee, which have been blurred by sexual mis­conduct alle­ga­tions and staunch divi­sions along party lines.

Sophomore and Hillsdale College YAF Student Director Madeline Aherin called Carrington’s talk “important.”

“He talked about the qual­ities of a good judge and some of the ques­tions that are cir­cu­lating around the Kavanaugh hearings,” Aherin said. “He tried to push past a lot of the alle­ga­tions that are cir­cling in the news and get to what is really important when it comes to appointing a new judge.”

Aherin added that because YAF is a political group that is more focused on prin­ciple than party, Carrington’s points were espe­cially rel­evant to the stu­dents attending.

Junior Ade­laide Holmes agreed.

“I think this is important for us to under­stand. As cit­izens we’re sup­posed to be aware of what’s going on, and not only aware, but par­tic­i­pating in it,” Holmes said.

Car­rington reminded the stu­dents that how they argue is just as important as what they argue when it comes to these important ques­tions.

“Be careful of always assuming that either side is acting only in a bad way. You might want to get down to what the prin­ciple is, and argue on that level,” Car­rington said.