Bench Memos

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh

As much of the nation gets its introduction to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has been nominated to be the 114th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, here are eight aspects of his background you might not have been aware of:

  1. Judge Kavanaugh has served for 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is widely considered the second most significant court in the nation. Three current justices of the Supreme Court—John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Clarence Thomas—served there prior to their elevation, as did former justices Warren Burger and Antonin Scalia.
  2. Both of Judge Kavanaugh’s parents attended law school while he was growing up, graduating when he was 13 years old. His father had attended law school at night while working full time. His mother went on to serve as a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge in Maryland.
  3. Judge Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch both attended the same high school, and both clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy during the same Supreme Court term.
  4. On at least 13 occasions, the Supreme Court has adopted positions that Judge Kavanaugh previously took in his opinions. On nine of those occasions, the Court vindicated Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinions.
  5. Judge Kavanaugh has spent most of his career serving the public and additionally volunteers to serve meals to the homeless, tutor at an elementary school, and coach his daughter’s basketball team.
  6. Judge Kavanaugh is an avid runner who has run the Boston Marathon twice in the last decade, finishing in 2010 in under four hours.
  7. Judge Kavanaugh ranks second among sitting judges for the number of law clerks who have gone on to clerk for the Supreme Court. Eight of the nine justices of the current Court (all but Ginsburg) have hired Kavanaugh clerks, as have former Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Scalia, and David Souter.
  8. Judge Kavanaugh has had a total of 48 law clerks over his 12 years of service on the D.C. Circuit. Twenty-five of them were women. In 2014, all four of his clerks were women—a first for any judge on the D.C. Circuit. Reacting to his nomination to the Supreme Court, all of his former clerks who are permitted by their employment to do so submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee attesting to Judge Kavanaugh’s “strength of character, generosity of spirit, intellectual capacity, and unwavering care for his family, friends, colleagues, and us, his law clerks.”


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