How 'the Forrest Gump of Republican politics' Brett Kavanaugh became the Supreme Court's most embattled justice in decades, after controversy over sexual misconduct allegations

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesBrett Kavanaugh has been a federal judge for 12 years.
  • The Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court.
  • Kavanaugh’s nomination appeared to be in jeopardy for weeks, after multiple women came forward to publicly accuse him of sexual misconduct in high school and college. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations in statements and testimony.
  • But several key senators on Friday announced they intended to vote for him on Saturday regardless, paving the way for his confirmation.

After several tumultuous weeks of uncertainty, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday.

The Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm Kavanaugh, after several days of speculation over how key senators viewed as “swing votes” would decide. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia were pivotal in confirming Kavanaugh, voting “yes,” while Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski opposed his confirmation.

But the multiple sexual misconduct allegations lodged against Kavanaugh in recent weeks still hangs over Saturday’s news, prompting furious backlash from the protesters who for weeks lobbied Collins, Manchin, and other senators to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Christine Blasey Ford, 51, accused a teenaged Kavanaugh of forcing himself on her at a high school party in the early 1980s. Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh’s, said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her without her consent at a dorm-room party during his freshman 1983-84 school year.

Kavanaugh categorically denied Ford and Ramirez’s accounts in separate statements before delivering a fiery testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. An additional FBI background check into the allegations concluded less than a week later with no corroboration for the accounts.

Kavanaugh was born and bred in the Washington, DC area and has a long history in conservative circles. Top Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin once called Kavanaugh the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics,” because he was present for so many key moments in modern political history.

As the final vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation approaches, here’s a look at how the born-and-bred conservative rose to become the court’s most pivotal nomination in decades:


Brett Kavanaugh was born Feb. 12, 1965, in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesKavanaugh looks on as Trump introduces him as his nominee in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018.

Source: NPR


He attended Georgetown Preparatory School, an all-boys school in Rockville, Maryland. He was staff for the school newspaper, played on the school’s varsity football team, and was captain of the basketball team.

Screenshot via Google Maps

Source: Washingtonian


Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, also attended Georgetown Prep and graduated two years before Kavanaugh.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sources: Washingtonian, Business Insider


After Yale University, Kavanaugh attended Yale Law School, which also produced current Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, and Samuel Alito.

Source: DC Circuit Court


In 1993, Kavanaugh served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom he will replace if the Senate confirms him.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesKennedy retired from the court in June.

Source: DC Circuit Court


Before he was a partner at DC law firm Kirkland & Ellis, Kavanaugh was associate counsel on the team led by Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Source: DC Circuit Court


As part of Starr’s team, Kavanaugh helped draft the report recommending Clinton’s impeachment, in which he wrote independent counsel investigations can take “too long,” easily become “politicized,” and can go beyond their original scope.

Source: Business Insider


He also expressed doubt that a president can even be indicted while in office.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesThen-District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh attends a news conference with Senate GOP leadership in the Capitol May 22, 2006 in Washington, DC.

Source: Business Insider


Democrats have pointed out that these opinions could prove significant as the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the Russia investigation, considers actions Trump has taken that could possibly be considered obstruction of justice.

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesRobert Mueller.

Source: Business Insider


After Trump made his announcement, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois spoke out against Kavanaugh’s nomination, calling him a “far-right jurist” who “could change the rules in America” because of his expressed opinions on investigating presidents.

Source: Chicago Tribune


From 2001 to 2006, Kavanaugh worked under former President George W. Bush as assistant, staff secretary, and senior associate counsel to the president.

Eric Draper/White House via Getty Images)George W. Bush reviews his State of the Union speech with Communications Director Dan Bartlett, Staff Secretary Brett Kavanaugh, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in the Oval Office January 20, 2004.

Source: DC Circuit Court


Bush nominated him to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has served since 2006. The Senate confirmed him with a vote of 57 to 36. The chief justice John Roberts, and justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg also served on the same court before joining the high court.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesSenate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Kavanaugh, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) hold a news conference in the Capitol May 22, 2006.

Source: The Washington Post


At a 2004 confirmation hearing, Durbin called Kavanaugh “the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics” because he’s been present at so many dramatic events throughout his career.

Paramount PicturesForrest Gump appeared in many historical events in the movie of the same name, from Vietnam War protests at the Lincoln Memorial to calling in a tip at the Watergate Hotel.

Source: US Government Publishing Office


Kavanaugh helped Bush’s team in the high-stakes Supreme Court decision to block the recount of votes in the 2000 presidential election between Bush and Al Gore.

Robert King/Newsmakers via GettyUsing a magnifying glass to examine a dimpled chad on a punch card ballot November 24, 2000 during a vote recount in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Source: Associated Press


Kavanaugh also represented then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his push for a school voucher program that attempted to get public money to private religious schools, which the Supreme Court eventually ruled was unconstitutional while Kavanaugh was on George W. Bush’s staff.

Source: Education Week


Kavanaugh was on the White House staff during and in the several years of aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and has since issued rulings supporting wide-ranging governmental authority to surveillance.

Sources: DC Court of Appeals, The Washington Post, Politico


Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley met when they were both aides for Bush, and their first date was actually the night before the 9/11 attacks. She was present at his swearing-in to the DC Circuit, alongside by former Justice Kennedy.

Source: Associated Press


Kavanaugh made headlines last year when he backed the Trump administration’s arguments in his dissent to a ruling that allowed an undocumented minor to receive an abortion.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesTrump introduces Kavanaugh as his nominee on July 9, 2018.

Source: Business Insider


During his 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh said he “would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court.”

Source:

Politico


During his time on the DC Circuit Court, Kavanaugh taught at Georgetown Law Center, Yale Law School, and Harvard Law School, where he was hired by Justice Elena Kagan, who was then dean of Harvard Law.

Source: The New York Times, DC Circuit Court


In 2015, Kavanaugh ran the Boston Marathon in 4:08:36, and in 2010 he ran it in 3:59:45.

Source: Boston.com


Kavanaugh tutors and coaches children, volunteers for Catholic charity groups, and attends church in the Washington, DC area, where he lives with his family.

Source: DC Circuit Court


“There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving,” Trump said of Kavanaugh at the nomination announcement.

Source: Business Insider


But Democratic senators immediately voiced their opposition. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same. The stakes are simply too high for anything less.”

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

Source: Senate Democrats


Days before his confirmation hearing, Democrats spoke out against a White House decision to withhold 27,000 documents — many from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush administration — citing “constitutional privilege.”


Schumer called it a “Friday night document massacre” that “has all the makings of a cover up.” While the White House had released more than 415,000 pages on Kavanaugh’s background, it withheld over 100,000.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee member, said the documents that she’s seen raise “some very interesting questions” about Kavanaugh’s background, particularly concerning his views on executive power and a president’s eligibility to be investigated.

Screenshot via NBC

Source: Business Insider


A Gallup poll released hours before Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing was set to start showed a four-point margin in favour of confirmation, which is one of the smallest measured to date.

Source: Gallup


Republican Ron Johnson, in an interview with ABC’s “This Week”, dismissed Democrats’ concerns as politically motivated.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings started with a bang as Senate Democrats moved to adjourn within seconds of its beginning. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley denied the request.

Source: Business Insider


Dozens of protestors continuously interrupted the hearings to voice concerns over Kavanaugh’s views on issues including abortion and gun rights.

Source: Business Insider


After a week of hearings, a sexual misconduct accusation against Kavanaugh first became publicly known after being detailed in a letter Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent to the FBI without identifying its contents to fellow lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee.

Source: Business Insider


Kavanaugh flatly denied the allegations in a statement from the White House: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Source: Business Insider


Soon after, the accuser spoke to The Washington Post. Christine Blasey Ford detailed her account of an alleged incident in the early 1980s where a “stumbling drunk” Kavanaugh attempted to force himself on her.

Source: Business Insider


Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist and professor, said through her lawyer Debra Katz that she would testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and “do whatever it takes to get her story forth.”

Sources: Business Insider, CNN


At first, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Ford “should not be insulted and she should not be ignored,” and while Trump said he felt “terribly” for Kavanaugh, he hoped Ford would “come forward, state her case.”

Screenshot via FoxCounselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.

Source: BusinessInsider


Kavanaugh doubled down on his denial after the Post’s report, saying he was willing to testify against this “false allegation.”

via White House press poolStatement from Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Source: Business Insider


Then Trump blamed Ford for not going to the FBI with the allegations when she was in high school, and said Kavanaugh was “under assault by radical left wing politicians.”

Source: Business Insider


Lawmakers were split for days on how to proceed. Feinstein, a ranking committee Democrat, called for the hearing to be canceled and Kavanaugh’s confirmation delayed.

Source: Business Insider


Ford and Kavanaugh reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to both testify on Thursday, September 27.

Research Gate/Getty ImagesChristine Blasey Ford; Brett Kavanaugh.

Source: Business Insider


On Sunday, a week after Ford went public, The New Yorker published an article detailing an allegation from Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh’s who said he exposed himself to her at a dorm-room party during his freshman 1983-84 school year.

Source: Business Insider


In response to Ramirez’s allegations, Kavanaugh released a letter calling the accusation “a smear, plain and simple,” and vowed to fight back “against these last-minute allegations.”

Source: Business Insider


Attorney Michael Avenatti then came forward to represent another woman, Julie Swetnick, who signed a sworn declaration alleging that she witnessed Kavanaugh and Judge display “abusive and physically aggressive behaviour toward girls” during a series of house parties in the 1980s.

Source: Business Insider


Swetnick alleges the boys would “spike” punch with drugs or alcohol to cause girls to lose their inhibitions or ability to say “no,” so that girls could be “gang-raped” by a “train” of boys, and that she was one of the victims.

Zach Gibson/Getty Images/YouTube/Showtime/Business Insider

Source: CNBC


Kavanaugh called the latest allegations “ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone,” adding: “I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesBrett Kavanaugh.

Amid the flood of allegations, the Trump Administration has repeatedly defended Kavanaugh, with Trump and other officials painting them as a “vast left-wing conspiracy.”

Source: Business Insider


At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Ford made gut-wrenching opening remarks testifying under oath that Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school.

Win McNamee/Getty Images; Zach Gibson/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


In his fiery testimony later that day, Kavanaugh not only denied the allegation but also singled out Democratic senators, accusing them of seeking revenge “on behalf of the Clintons,” and acting out of “pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”

Andrew Harnik – Pool/Getty ImagesBrett Kavanaugh

Source: Business Insider


In a shock move, Sen. Jeff Flake made a surprise proposal at Friday’s vote for a week-long FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, which earned bipartisan support and approval from President Donald Trump.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


The FBI interviewed several key figures including Deborah Ramirez and several former Yale classmates, but not Ford or Kavanaugh. Democrats slammed the investigation after it concluded Thursday, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying their worries about a constrained investigation “have been realised.”

Source: Business Insider


Despite partisan tension, the Senate voted 51-49 Friday to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation. According to cloture rules, the final floor vote could occur as soon as Saturday night after no more than 30 hours of floor debate.

Source: Business Insider


With their 51-49 hold on the Senate, Republicans can’t afford to lose any votes. Democrats are pushing hard to block Kavanaugh’s nomination, and all eyes will be on the Senate to see how lawmakers decide to proceed on his confirmation.

Wikipedia; Chip Somodevilla/Getty; Skye Gould/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.