Last night, President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh will be his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Here are nine things you should know about Judge Kavanaugh:
1. Brett Kavanaugh, age 53, was born in Washington, D.C., and educated at Yale University (BA) and Yale Law Law School, (JD). He previously served in private practice at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, and served as principal deputy to the associate attorney general and acting associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice. He was appointed as a judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by George W. Bush.
2. After graduating law school, Judge Kavanaugh clerked for two appeals court judges and for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. He also served as an attorney in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States and an Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr. As part of the Independent Counsel, Kavanaugh drafted the report refuting the claim that Bill Clinton’s Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster was the victim of a murder plot and coverup. Kavanaugh was also the primary author of the section of the 1998 Starr report that detailed grounds for a possible impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton.
3. During the Presidency of George W. Bush, Kavanaugh served as an Associate Counsel and then Senior Associate Counsel to the President, and as an Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary to the President. During those years he met and married his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, who served as Personal Secretary to the President between 2001 and 2004. In his memoir Decision Points, President Bush said that Kavanaugh helped to convince him to nominate John Roberts for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
4. Since joining the appeals court in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh has taught full-term courses at Georgetown University Law Center (a course on Constitutional Interpretation in 2007), at Yale Law School (a course on National Security in 2011), and at Harvard Law School (a course on Separation of Powers from 2008 to 2015, and a course on the Supreme Court in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018). He has been named the Samuel Williston Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School since 2009.
5. In his judicial philosophy, Judge Kavanaugh is considered a proponent of originalism, a manner of interpreting the Constitution that begins with the text and attempts to give that text the meaning it had when it was adopted, and textualism, a method of statutory interpretation that relies on the plain text of a statute to determine its meaning.
6. Out of the seven justices in American history who have previously served as law clerks for the Supreme Court, four are currently on the bench: John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch. Kavanaugh would not only be the fifth, he would also be the second justice to have served as a former law clerk of Anthony Kennedy (Gorsuch was the other).
7. While in private practice in the 1990s, he served as chair of the Federalist Society’s Religious Liberties Practice Group and wrote two pro bono Supreme Court amicus briefs in support of the cause of religious liberty. (The Federalist Society is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in “reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law.”)
8. In a 2017 case involving an unaccompanied and undocumented migrant teenager who sought an abortion while living in a government-funded shelter, Kavanaugh issued a dissenting opinion. In that dissent he wrote that a previous “ruling followed from the Supreme Court’s many precedents holding that the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.” However, he found the opinion of the majority on his appeals court represented a “radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.”
9. Kavanaugh is a Catholic and regular lector (i.e., responsible for reading aloud excerpts of scripture at a liturgy) at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. He regularly served meals as part of the St. Maria’s Meals program at Catholic Charities in D.C. and has tutored at the Washington Jesuit Academy and at J.O. Wilson Elementary School.
Other posts in this series:
MS-13 • Wicca and Modern Witchcraft • Jerusalem • Christianity in Korea • Creation of Modern Israel • David Koresh and the Branch Davidians • Rajneeshees • Football • The Opioid Epidemic (Part II) • The Unification Church • Billy Graham • Frederick Douglass • Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968 • Winter Olympics • The ‘Mississippi Burning’ Murders • Events and Discoveries in 2017 • Christmas Traditions • Sexual Misconduct • Lutheranism • Jewish High Holy Days • Nation of Islam • Slave Trade • Solar Eclipses • Alcohol Abuse in America • History of the Homeschooling Movement • Eugenics • North Korea • Ramadan • Black Hebrew Israelites • Neil Gorsuch and Supreme Court Confirmations • International Women’s Day • Health Effects of Marijuana • J. R. R. Tolkien • Aleppo and the Syrian Crisis • Fidel Castro • C.S. Lewis • ESV Bible • Alzheimer’s Disease • Mother Teresa • The Opioid Epidemic • The Olympic Games • Physician-Assisted Suicide • Nuclear Weapons • China’s Cultural Revolution • Jehovah’s Witnesses • Harriet Tubman • Autism • Seventh-day Adventism • Justice Antonin Scalia (1936–2016) • Female Genital Mutilation • Orphans • Pastors • Global Persecution of Christians (2015 Edition) • Global Hunger • National Hispanic Heritage Month • Pope Francis • Refugees in America • Confederate Flag Controversy • Elisabeth Elliot • Animal Fighting • Mental Health • Prayer in the Bible • Same-sex Marriage • Genocide • Church Architecture • Auschwitz and Nazi Extermination Camps • Boko Haram • Adoption • Military Chaplains • Atheism • Intimate Partner Violence • Rabbinic Judaism • Hamas • Male Body Image Issues • Mormonism • Islam • Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence • Anglicanism • Transgenderism • Southern Baptist Convention • Surrogacy • John Calvin • The Rwandan Genocide • The Chronicles of Narnia • The Story of Noah • Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church • Pimps and Sex Traffickers • Marriage in America • Black History Month • The Holocaust • Roe v. Wade • Poverty in America • Christmas • The Hobbit • Council of Trent • Halloween and Reformation Day • Casinos and Gambling • Prison Rape • 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing • Chemical Weapons • March on Washington • Duck Dynasty • Child Brides • Human Trafficking • Scopes Monkey Trial • Social Media • Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Cases • The Bible • Human Cloning • Pornography and the Brain • Planned Parenthood • Boston Marathon Bombing • Female Body Image Issues • Islamic State