Yesterday, President Trump announced his pick to fill the empty Supreme Court seat created by Justice Kennedy’s retirement — he chose Brett Kavanaugh. While any Supreme Court pick is significant, this one is especially important given its potential to swing the Court further to the right. As a result, we’re dedicating a post to providing some background on Judge Kavanaugh.
Of the potential picks, Judge Kavanaugh’s academic record is the most prestigious. He attended Yale for both undergrad and law school. Following two circuit court clerkships and a stint with then-Solicitor General Ken Starr, he eventually clerked for Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court (there is a lot of speculation about whether Justice Kennedy influenced President Trump to choose Judge Kavanaugh, but I’m not going to get into that here). Suffice it to say, Judge Kavanaugh’s credentials are fairly unimpeachable.
Speaking of impeachment, Judge Kavanaugh was heavily involved in the investigation into President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, helping to author the Starr Report on the subject. Later, Judge Kavanaugh worked as Senior Associate Counsel and Associate Counsel to the President for George W. Bush. Finally, Judge Kavanuagh was appointed to the D.C. Circuit and confirmed by the Senate. During his confirmation hearings, Senator Dick Durbin referred to Judge Kavanaugh as the “Forrest Gump of Republican Politics” — a particularly apt description, given his presence and involvement in this long series of high profile political matters. Judge Kavanaugh has been on the D.C. Circuit for the last 12 years.
For a sense of his judicial philosophy, one need look no further than Judge Kavanaugh’s remarks yesterday: “My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.” In other words, Judge Kavanaugh fits the conservative mold of a justice to a tee.
There will, no doubt, be vast quantities of ink spilled over Judge Kavanaugh’s positions on various, specific issues, which I will not get into here. Broadly speaking, however, Judge Kavanaugh will undoubtedly create a strong conservative majority on the Court to a much greater extent than his predecessor.