Brett Kavanaugh

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Brett Kavanaugh
Brett Kavanaugh Takes Oath.jpg
Kavanaugh sworn in by Justice Kennedy as President Bush and Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley, look on.
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Assumed office
May 30, 2006
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by Laurence Silberman
White House Staff Secretary
In office
June 6, 2003 – May 30, 2006
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Harriet Miers
Succeeded by Raul Yanes
Personal details
Born (1965-02-12) February 12, 1965 (age 50)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma mater Yale University

Brett Michael Kavanaugh (born February 12, 1965) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was Staff Secretary in the Executive Office of the President of the United States under President George W. Bush.

A protégé of Kenneth Starr, Kavanaugh played a lead role in drafting the Starr report, which urged the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[1] Kavanaugh also led the investigation into the suicide of Clinton aide Vincent Foster. After the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, in which Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush campaign in the Florida recount, Kavanaugh joined Bush's staff, where he led the Administration's effort to identify and confirm conservative judicial nominees.[2]

Kavanaugh himself was nominated to the D.C. Appeals Court by Bush in 2003. His confirmation hearings were contentious and stalled for three years over charges of partisanship. Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed in May 2006 after a series of negotiations between Democratic and Republican Senators.[3][4][5] Kavanaugh has been mentioned as a future Republican nominee to the Supreme Court.[6]


Kavanaugh was born on February 12, 1965 in Washington, D.C., and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, the son of Edward and Martha Kavanaugh. He is a Roman Catholic and graduated from the Georgetown Preparatory School before going to Yale College.

He received his B.A. from Yale and his law degree from Yale Law School, where he served as Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal. He is married to Ashley Estes, a native of Abilene, Texas, who formerly served as Personal Secretary to the President in the White House at the same time as her future husband. They have two daughters.

Kavanaugh clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, as well as Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit and Judge Walter Stapleton of the Third Circuit. Prior to his Supreme Court clerkship, Kavanaugh earned a one-year fellowship in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States, Kenneth Starr. The Solicitor General's office represents the United States before the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh was later a partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where his practice focused on appellate matters. Kavanaugh also served as an Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel, where he handled a number of the novel constitutional and legal issues presented during that investigation and was a principal author of the Starr Report to Congress on the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton and Vincent Foster investigation.[7]

After George W. Bush became president in 2001, Kavanaugh served for two years as Senior Associate Counsel and Associate Counsel to the President. In that capacity, he worked on the numerous constitutional, legal, and ethical issues handled by that office. Starting in 2003, he served as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary. In that capacity, he was responsible for coordinating all documents to and from the president.

D.C. Circuit nomination and confirmation[edit]

President George W. Bush first nominated Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit on July 25, 2003, to a vacancy created by Judge Laurence H. Silberman, who took senior status in November 2000. Kavanaugh's nomination was stalled in the Senate for nearly three years. Democratic Senators criticized him as being too partisan, with Senator Dick Durbin calling him the "Forrest Gump of Republican politics."[8] The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended confirmation on a 10-8 party-line vote on May 11, 2006, and Kavanaugh was thereafter confirmed [9][10] by the U.S. Senate on May 26, 2006 by a vote of 57-36. On June 1, 2006, he was sworn in by Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he had previously clerked, during a special Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.[1] Kavanaugh was the fourth judge nominated to the D.C. Circuit by Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate.

Kavanaugh began hearing cases on September 11, 2006 and had his formal investiture on September 27 at the Prettyman Courthouse. His first published opinion was released on November 17, 2006. He authored the opinion of the court for a unanimous three-judge panel in the case of National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. v. FERC.

In July 2007 Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin accused Kavanaugh of "misleading" the Senate committee during his nomination stemming from the Bush White House detention policy.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Associated Press, June 1, 2006, "President Celebrates Judge's Swearing-In" by Deb Riechmann

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Laurence Silberman
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit