Last night, it was announced that Trump had nominated Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the United States Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Kennedy’s retirement. Judge Kavanaugh currently sits on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit bench.
Born in Washington, D.C., Kavanaugh earned his B.A. and J.D. from Yale. He then clerked for Judge Stapleton of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Kozinski of the 9th Circuit. Kavanaugh also clerked for Justice Kennedy while he was on the court.
In the Know
Kavanaugh worked for Ken Starr both when he was Solicitor General and when he was Associate Counsel investigating the Monica Lewinsky Bill Clinton affair. At the time, he argued strongly in favor of impeaching Clinton. He argued that President Clinton was susceptible to impeachment because he had lied to his staff and mislead the public, “a broad definition of obstruction of justice that would be damaging if applied to President Trump in the Russia investigation.” However, Kavanaugh also authored an article in 2009 in the Minnesota Law Review in which he said, “the indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.” Where Kavanaugh would fall in terms of Mueller’s investigation therefore remains to be seen.
Kavanaugh also assisted with the Vincent Foster investigation, where he argued before the Supreme Court that attorney-client privilege should be disregarded in the investigation of the case. His argument was rejected by a vote of 6-3. Reminder: Vincent Foster was a Deputy White House Counsel in the Clinton administration before he committed suicide six months into his position. Five investigations into his death all determined it was by suicide, including the investigation Kavanaugh worked on which was lead by Ken Starr.
In 2001, Kavanaugh began serving as Senior Associate Counsel and Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush. In 2003, he became Assistant to the President and White House Staff Secretary. It was Bush who nominated Kavanaugh to the US Court of Appeals in 2003, though his nomination was stalled in the Senate for three years. He was ultimately confirmed by the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary by a 10-8 vote and was subsequently sworn in by Justice Kennedy.
Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is not surprising considering his ideological stance. Kavanaugh is more conservative than Justice Kennedy, making Justice Roberts now the middle point on the bench. The Court will therefore take a more conservative shape for perhaps decades to come.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has raised concerns for pro-choice advocates who already fear Roe V. Wade is in peril after Kennedy’s retirement announcement. In his 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh was asked by Senator Schumer what he thought of the landmark decision. Kavanaugh responded, “If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court.” However, Kavanaugh’s personal voices are pro-life, though he has previously maintained it is a Judge’s job to uphold the law, not to create it. If the possibility to overturn Roe v. Wade arose, we must assume Kavanaugh would support it. If it continues to exist, we must then hold him to his previous promise to interpret the law as it exists.
Kavanaugh is 53. Comparatively, here are the ages at which the other Justices assumed their positions: Ginsburg 60, Roberts 50, Thomas 43, Breyer 56, Kagan 50, Alito 56, Sotomayor 55, Gorsuch 49.