US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican President Trump’s 2018 nominee to replace a retiring Anthony Kennedy

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh was born in Washington, DC in 1965. He received a BA from Yale in 1987 (where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity) and a JD from Yale Law in 1990. He served as a law clerk for Judge Walter Stapleton of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1990-1991, for Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1991-1992, and for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court during the 1993 Term. From 1992-1993, he was an attorney in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States. From 1994 to 1997 and for a period in 1998, he was Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel. He was a partner at the Washington, DC law firm of Kirkland & Ellis (described as one of the most politically conservative) from 1997 to 1998 and again from 1999 to 2001. From 2001 to 2003, he was Associate Counsel and then Senior Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush. From 2003 to 2006, he was Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary for President Bush. He was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006. Republican President Donald Trump nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat in October of 2018 after perhaps the most controversial confirmation process in history (see below). 

While Kavanaugh’s name was on the short list of Supreme Court nominees (prior to his nomination), Palo Alto University Professor of Psychology Christine Blasey Ford contacted a Washington Post tip line with accusations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school. She also contacted her local Congresswoman, and, through that Congresswoman, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who also happened to be the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blasey Ford’s story became public when Feinstein broke Blasey Ford’s anonymity by submitting a letter by Ford to the FBI.

Ford told The Washington Post that during a pool party in suburban Maryland in the early Eighties, Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her down on a bed and groped her, trying to remove her one-piece bathing suit and other clothing. She told the newspaper that he covered her mouth when she tried to scream for help. She escaped when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge jumped on the bed, sending all three tumbling off.

Ford said she didn’t tell anyone of the incident in detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. Provided therapist’s notes did not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.”

Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August 2018, and the results concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate. Kavanaugh was also accused of sexual assault by Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate, during their Freshman year of college.

In late September, 2018 after a request from US Senator Jeff Flake, followed by a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Trump ordered an FBI supplemental background investigation concerning the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, but it was later reported that Ford, Kavanaugh, and dozens of other witnesses were not interviewed by the FBI. On October 6th, following that investigation, the Senate voted 50–48 to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

After Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, it came to light that Kavanaugh had cited the term “Devil’s Triangle” in his high school yearbook (perhaps contrary to Kavanaugh’s description of the term as referring to a “drinking game” and after-the-fact explanations of the game’s rules by Kavanaugh associates, the Urban Dictionary link above suggests otherwise, and Kavanaugh seemed unable to come up with a convincing explanation of the game’s rules for a Rhode Island Senator in real time). His explanation of “boofing” as flatulence (it’s more commonly known today as insertion of alcohol into the rectum, and more commonly referred to at the time of Kavanaugh’s use of the term in his yearbook as denoting anal sex) also seemed oddly at odds with a man who seemed remarkably at ease with popular slang even as a partner of a law firm and a White House counsel.

Questions were also raised during the confirmation process about Kavanaugh’s excessive credit card debt (most probably in the six figures), which disappeared just as mysteriously as it appeared in the first place (Kavanaugh claimed the debts were incurred while purchasing large numbers of baseball tickets for friends, and were paid off with reimbursements).

  1. Source: CNN
  2. Source: National Review
  3. Source: The New York Times
  4. Source: The New Yorker
  5. Source: Urban Dictionary
  6. Source: The Washington Post
  7. Source: Wikipedia

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