Late last week Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to succeed the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, returned the questionnaire given to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some of the interesting tidbits revealed in the questionnaire:
- Kavanaugh was able to parlay his time in law school and his three clerkships (two in the federal courts of appeals and one on the U.S. Supreme Court) into five different summer associate positions in prestigious law firms: He spent the summer of 1988 – the summer after his first year in law school – at the firm then known as Pillsbury Madison & Sutro; he divided his time in the summer of 1989 between Miller Cassidy Larocca & Lewin (a small litigation boutique in Washington, which has since become part of the law firm Baker Botts) and Covington & Burling; he spent the summer of 1990 at Williams & Connolly; and he spent the summer of 1992 at Munger Tolles. Kavanaugh did not work as a summer associate at Kirkland & Ellis, where he would wind up after his first stint in the Office of the Independent Counsel.
- Kavanaugh serves on the selection committee for the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation’s Devitt Award. Dwight Opperman, for whom the foundation is named, was the creator of the legal research tool Westlaw; when Opperman died in 2013, Kennedy gave the eulogy. As David Lat of Above the Law has reported, the prize – named after Edward Devitt, a federal district judge in Minnesota who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives — was intended to be a “Nobel Prize” for the judiciary, and it comes with a $15,000 cash award.
- For two years, from 1999 to 2001, Kavanaugh served as the co-chair of the Federalist Society’s School Choice Subcommittee, in the Religious Liberties Practice Group.
- Even lawyers who go on to be federal judges can have problems with their bar memberships: Kavanaugh reported that his D.C. bar membership “lapsed for a brief period in 2002 when my renewal form was delivered to an incorrect home address. There have been no other lapses in membership.”
- Kavanaugh coached basketball (it is not entirely clear, but presumably a team of sixth-grade boys) even before having children of his own, in 1996-1997.
- Kavanaugh has delivered a lot of speeches and joined in many panel discussions, on subjects ranging from national security and the law, in remarks at Yale Law School (October 2013), to Bush administration policies, in a meeting with gay and lesbian Republicans (May 2003). His appearances have ranged from participation in numerous Shakespeare Theatre Company mock trials to speaking at a father-daughter mass and brunch at Georgetown Visitation, a Catholic girls’ high school in Washington (December 2016).
- Asked to list the 10 most important cases in which he has participated, Kavanaugh selected as the first nine cases in which the Supreme Court adopted the position he had outlined in his opinion. Kavanaugh explained that he included the 10th case, that of a former Fannie Mae employee who represented himself in an employment-discrimination case, “because of what it says about anti-discrimination law and American history.” Kavanaugh indicated that he both joined the majority’s opinion ruling for the employee and “also wrote a separate concurrence to explain that calling someone the n-word, even once, creates a hostile work environment.” “No other word in the English language,” Kavanaugh wrote in his concurrence, “so powerfully or instantly calls to mind our country’s long and brutal struggle to overcome racism and discrimination against African-Americans.”
- The Supreme Court reversed Kavanaugh only once, in a challenge to an Environmental Protection Agency rule that required some states to reduce their emissions. Kavanaugh noted that he had written an opinion that ruled for the challengers, on the ground that the rule exceeded the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. By a vote of 6-2, the Supreme Court reversed – but, Kavanaugh emphasized, the court nonetheless “agreed with my opinion that the EPA rule violates the statute when it ‘requires an upwind State to reduce emissions by more than the amount necessary to achieve attainment in every downwind State to which it is linked.’”
- Once Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday, June 27, the process of nominating his successor quickly kicked into gear. Kavanaugh reported that White House counsel Don McGahn called him just a few hours after the announcement, and that Kavanaugh met with McGahn two days later. Kavanaugh interviewed with Trump on Monday, July 2, and with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, July 4. Kavanaugh spoke again with Trump, this time by phone, on the morning of Sunday, July 8; that night, Trump offered Kavanaugh the nomination during a meeting at the White House.
This post was also published on SCOTUSblog.