The Wall Street Journal: Kavanaughs Collegial Nature Could Change Supreme Courts Tenor

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“Judge Kavanaugh’s connection with nearly every justice, and his reputation as a straight-shooter even among those who disagree with him, suggests he would make the ride as smooth as possible.”

Kavanaugh’s Collegial Nature Could Change Supreme Court’s Tenor
By Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall

The Wall Street Journal

July 15, 2018

Judge Kavanaugh’s connection with nearly every justice, and his reputation as a straight-shooter even among those who disagree with him, suggests he would make the ride as smooth as possible.

The next justice’s demeanor could calm an institution no longer entirely immune to the discord that now defines Washington.

“They say every time you get a new justice, the whole chemistry of the court changes,” said Daniel Epps, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Last term alone, former Kavanaugh clerks worked for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. Justices Stephen Breyer and Neil Gorsuch each have hired a Kavanaugh clerk for the new term that begins in October.

In several recent years Judge Kavanaugh has joined with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other Democratic appointees for mock trials staged by Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Judge Kavanaugh took pains to praise another liberal judge, Robert Katzmann of the Second Circuit in New York, when reviewing his book, “Judging Statutes,” which advanced legal methods at odds with his own.

“Chief Judge Katzmann is one of America’s finest judges and a true role model for me and many others, both in how he approaches his job and in how he seeks to improve the system of justice,” Judge Kavanaugh wrote two years ago in the Harvard Law Review. “Even where I disagree, I have learned a great deal.”

In response, Chief Judge Katzmann wrote, “I could not have hoped for a more thoughtful examination of the subject.”

Should he join the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh “already has built-in relationships. He’s a voice the justices are going to be primed to listen to,” said Luke McCloud, a lawyer at Williams & Connolly LLP who clerked for Judge Kavanaugh before clerking for Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Mr. McCloud said that on the D.C. Circuit, Judge Kavanaugh “always tried to take his colleagues’ views into account even when he disagreed with them.”

When Mr. Trump announced his nomination this month, Judge Kavanaugh tried to show that times had changed. He thanked Justice Kagan, a 2010 Barack Obama appointee, for hiring him to teach a course when she was dean of Harvard Law School.

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