How Brett Kavanaugh, the 'Forrest Gump of Republican politics', rose to become the Supreme Court's most pivotal nomination in decades

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesUS Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is President Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee.
  • President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court.
  • Kavanaugh was born and bred in the Washington, DC area and has a long history in conservative circles.
  • His journey to the US Supreme Court has been so star-studded, one senator once called him the “Forrest Gump” of Republican politics.

President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court.

“There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving,” Trump said at the announcement Monday night, fewer than two weeks after Kennedy said he would end his 30-year career on the bench.

Republicans have praised Kavanaugh, but the Ivy League-educated veteran of George W. Bush’s administration has a tough confirmation process ahead of him. Republicans’ 51-49 hold on the Senate puts Kavanaugh in a precarious spot.

Top Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin once called Kavanaugh the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics”, and has spoken out since his nomination with concerns about how he could affect proceedings in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s actions as obstruction of justice. And other liberals are worried about what Kavanaugh could do to abortion rights.

As Kavanaugh heads to Capitol Hill to begin the confirmation proceedings, here’s a look at how the Washington, DC born-and-bred conservative rose to 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, who he would be replacing 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. 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

Reports after the announcement of his nomination pointed out 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

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 Ricein 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, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois 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, 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 Governor 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 Kavanuagh was on George Bush’s staff.

Source: Education Week

Kavanaugh was 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

After Trump made his announcement, Durbin also spoke out against Kavanuagh’s nomination, calling him a “far-right jurist” who “could change the rules in America” because of his expressed opinions in Clinton’s case.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Other Democratic senators echoed Durbin’s statement. 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

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.”



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


Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley met when they were both aides for Bush, and their first date was 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 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

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