People should give Brett Kavanaugh a chance. After knowing him for 38 years, I'm confident he'll make a wonderful Supreme Court Justice.
When I coached the basketball team at Georgetown Prep in the early 80’s, my three-year-old son, Brendan, would sometimes come to practices. As he ran around the court, I would ask a player to watch him. Sometimes that player was Brett Kavanaugh. He was just as adept at babysitting as he is at everything else.
Brett’s selection as President Trump’s pick for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court completed a remarkable trifecta for Georgetown Prep, the Jesuit high school in suburban Maryland outside Washington that my three sons attended. Last year, the President picked two Prep graduates, Jerome Powell and Neil Gorsuch, to lead the Federal Reserve and serve on the Supreme Court, respectively. The choice of Brett Kavanaugh was a little more personal to me.
Before the spectacle of the confirmation hearings begins, I would like to tell you about the man I have known for thirty-eight years. I first met Brett when he tried out for the basketball team I was coaching at Georgetown Prep. Brett was not very vocal but he practiced hard, was highly competitive, and quietly turned into a team leader. If the other boys started to misbehave, he would say something to get them back in line. He was not physically overpowering but more than made up for it with his basketball IQ and almost willed himself into a very good player. In his senior year, he was chosen team captain, a mark of his teammates’ respect.
Brett’s father, Ed Kavanaugh, is second-generation Irish with both grandparents emigrating from county Roscommon, located in north central part of the country, in the late 1800s. The family of his wife, Martha Murphy, traces its Irish roots back to the great, great grandparents landing in New Jersey from the old country.
Brett was born in Washington, D.C., on February 12, 1965. He was raised in Bethesda, Maryland and attended the Mater Dei School and then on to the Georgetown Preparatory School, a Jesuit-run institution known for its rigorous academics and athletics. He was a star at both finishing at the top of his class and excelling in both football and basketball.
Brett matriculated to Yale and then Yale Law School where he remained popular with his classmates in spite of being in a decided minority, politically. His career has been a series of high-profile government jobs after clerking for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He worked as an associate counsel for Kenneth Starr during the Clinton investigation, joined the Bush administration as a White House counsel and later staff secretary to the president. President Bush nominated him for the U.S. Court of Appeals on the DC circuit where he has served for twelve years and written over 300 opinions. He is eminently qualified for the high court.
In his spare time, he coaches his daughter’s basketball teams and works in a soup kitchen for Catholic Charities. He loves the Washington Nationals and drinks beer and eats hamburgers at the Chevy Chase lounge, a neighborhood bar. He is the epitome of a normal guy, a Jimmy Stewart type, well liked and well respected in the same breath.
The Democrats announced in advance that they would oppose any nominee of President Trump so that is why what will happen to Brett and his family is so unnecessary and despicable. He may need to recall the motto on Roscommon’s crest: “Constans Hiberniae Cor” which translated means “Steadfast Irish Heart.”
Over the years, we remained close, reuniting at Prep reunions, basketball and football games and social events. After his elevation to the D.C. court, I would greet him as, “Your Honor.” This year, at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick annual dinner, Brett was sitting on the dais as a guest of honor. One of the inductees was Brendan Dowd, the little three-year-old from long ago. When they called Brendan’s name, he was greeted on the dais by Brett with a huge bear hug.
I would like anyone who watches the nomination hearings to know that Brett Kavanaugh is one of the most decent men I have ever known. When the Democrats start to tear him and his family down, try to remember what Yale professor Amy Chua said about him in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal: “He is the most extraordinary mentor to women.” Twenty-eight of his 48 clerks have been women that have reported back to Chua that, “I didn’t know I was getting a mentor for life” and “I can’t imagine making a career decision without his advice.” Once a year, he hosts a party for all of his former clerks.
And remember that he was hired at Harvard by Elena Kagan, now a sitting Supreme Court Justice. He taught at Harvard for ten years. The law school dean described him as “an inspiring teacher and mentor. ”One of his neighbors in Chevy Chase, Greg Chernak, a Democratic lawyer said, “He is the type of Republican you want the Republicans to nominate.”
It appears that Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative Republican, has already mastered the untamable beast of gridlocked, partisan politics just by being a decent man. I ran into Brett about three weeks ago at a girls’ high school lacrosse game. We were both late and all the seats were taken. There was a lawn tractor behind the fence and I had climbed up on it to get a better view. I invited Brett to join me and we spent an enjoyable few minutes sitting on the tractor discussing old times. Brett has been my friend for 38 years and the day he is confirmed, I am going to the Chevy Chase Lounge to hoist a beer in his honor.