Here are 5 Things to Know about Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

  • Joe Carter Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Here are 5 Things to Know about Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

President Donald Trump has announced his nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Here is what you should know about the latest nominee for associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States: Brett Kavanaugh, including his religion and Christian faith.

Photo: U.S. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump introduces him as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court during an event in the East Room of the White House July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Judge Kavanaugh would succeed Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who is retiring after 30 years of service on the high court.

Photo courtesy: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Basic Facts

Age: 53

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Education: B.A. from Yale University; J.D. from Yale Law School.

Religious denomination: Catholic

Family: Judge Kavanaugh is married and has two daughters. His wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, served as Personal Secretary to President George W. Bush between 2001 and 2004.

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

 

Current judgeship and previous roles

Current judgeship:  U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (appointed by George W. Bush).

Previous roles: 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. During the Presidency of George W. Bush, Kavanaugh served as an Associate Counsel and then Senior Associate Counsel to the President, and as an Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary to the President. 

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Williard

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.

Rule of law

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.

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Ruling on Religious Liberty

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.”)

In a dissenting opinion in Priests for Life v. HHS—a case involving the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate—argued that the courts “may not question the wisdom or reasonableness (as opposed to the sincerity) of plaintiffs’ religious beliefs – including about complicity in wrongdoing” and that “Judicially second-guessing the correctness or reasonableness (as opposed to the sincerity) of plaintiffs’ religious beliefs is exactly what the Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby told us not to do.”

He submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Good News Club v. Milford Central School as pro-bono work in his private law practice. He argued for religious organizations to have equal access as any other organization for a public school that allows after school use of its facilities.

Photo: President Donald Trump introduces U.S. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court during an event in the East Room of the White House July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Judge Kavanaugh would succeed Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who is retiring after 30 years of service on the high court.

Photo courtesy: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ruling on Abortion

In a 2017 case involving an unaccompanied and undocumented migrant teenager who sought an abortion while living in a government-funded shelter, Kavanaugh issued a dissenting opinion. In that dissent he wrote that a previous “ruling followed from the Supreme Court’s many precedents holding that the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.” However, he found the opinion of the majority on his appeals court represented a “radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.”

“Today’s majority decision, by contrast, “substantially” adopts the panel dissent and is ultimately based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand, thereby barring any Government efforts to expeditiously transfer the minors to their immigration sponsors before they make that momentous life decision,” wrote Kavanaugh.

Press release and Russell Moore's thoughts on the appointment can be found here.

Based on the Ethics & Religious Liberty article "Explainer: What you should know about Judge Brett Kavanaugh." Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: July 10, 2018

Here are 5 Things to Know about Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh