Influential Judge, Loyal Friend, Conservative Warrior — and D.C. Insider

He interviewed for a clerkship with a liberal decide, however finally landed one with a conservative, Judge Walter Stapleton, a Delaware federal appeals courtroom decide who was not thought of a “feeder” — a decide whose clerks had a practical shot at a prestigious Supreme Court clerkship.

He was working for Judge Stapleton within the spring of 1991 when a serious abortion rights case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, got here earlier than his courtroom. Judge Stapleton wrote the bulk opinion, which upheld many provisions of a strict Pennsylvania abortion legislation district courtroom decide had struck down. (A consultant of Judge Kavanaugh’s affirmation staff declined to touch upon whether or not he had been concerned within the opinion.)

The subsequent yr, he took the bizarre step of accepting a second appeals courtroom clerkship. Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit, a conservative often known as a troublesome boss however whose chambers had been a launching pad for a Supreme Court clerkship, had a gap for a clerk and turned to Professor Priest, a good friend, for options.

“I called Kavanaugh and asked him, ‘Do you want to do another clerkship?’” Professor Priest recalled. The match was made. “He thought Brett was just fantastic,” Professor Priest stated of Judge Kozinski. Friends say the job marked Judge Kavanaugh’s rise to authorized stardom and honed his conservatism to concentrate on the precise phrases of the Constitution, which he would later name “a document of majestic specificity.”

The clerkship wasn’t simple. “When we started as law clerks, he told us we work for the people and we should consider ourselves on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Judge Kavanaugh testified throughout his 2006 affirmation listening to. “And I can say from personal experience that Judge Kozinski lived up to that promise.”

(Judge Kozinski retired final yr after a number of girls accused him of sexual harassment, and some opponents of Judge Kavanaugh have questioned whether or not he knew or ought to have recognized in regards to the abuse. A spokeswoman stated he by no means heard any sexual harassment allegations in opposition to Judge Kozinski till they surfaced publicly final yr.)

Shooting for the very best rungs of the authorized world, he utilized to clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist. He has instructed colleagues that he scored an interview, although he didn’t get the job. Mr. Kavanaugh went on to a fellowship within the solicitor normal’s workplace, which argues for the federal government earlier than the Supreme Court.

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