President Donald Trump announced last night that Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Here are five facts 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 served as Associate Counsel and then Senior Associate Counsel to the President, and as an Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary to the President before being appointed by George W. Bush as a judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
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. 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.
4. In a 2017 speech at Notre Dame Law School, Judge Kavanaugh said, “I believe very deeply in those visions of the rule of law as a law of rules, and of the judge as umpire. By that, I mean a neutral, impartial judiciary that decides cases based on settled principles without regard to policy preferences or political allegiances or which party is on which side in a particular case.”
5. 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.”)