I first met Brett Kavanaugh in fall 1991, when we were both recent law school graduates in our mid-20s. I didn’t know it then, but we were destined to spend the next three years together – we clerked for the same judge on the Court of Appeals, shared an office in the Justice Department and clerked at the Supreme Court during the same term, Kavanaugh for Justice Anthony Kennedy and myself for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In those days, I spent virtually every waking hour in close proximity to “BK,” as we called him then. We worked together, we ate together and we occasionally socialized with others together. Since then, he and I have remained personal friends and professional acquaintances. I was privileged to attend both his wedding and his investiture, and my family cherishes the annual Christmas cards featuring the Kavanaughs’ beautiful daughters, who are just a few years younger than our own.
One of the highlights of my legal career was arguing in front of all of the judges of the D.C. Circuit, including Judge Kavanaugh, as we call him now. And Kavanaugh, who loved teaching at Harvard Law School, encouraged me to accept an adjunct teaching post at a local law school. I have also been at countless dinners, receptions and other events with him over the years. Washington is a small town in many ways, particularly with respect to the appellate bar.
While I didn’t know Kavanaugh in high school, college or law school, I have known him for virtually all of his professional life – his time as a lawyer and judge, which led to his nomination to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Nothing I have seen of him over the course of 27 years bears any resemblance to the distressing and distorted picture painted of him during the past few weeks.
I have never known Kavanaugh to act disrespectfully to any woman (or man, for that matter), or to engage in any kind of impropriety, ever. I’ve seen him drink beer in social settings on occasion, but I have never seen him even come close to losing control. On the contrary, in such situations, he is more restrained than many. He listens to, and genuinely cares about, what others have to say – including those who disagree with him. I have never known him to be anything but polite, kind, considerate and, quite often, very funny.
I have watched firsthand Kavanaugh’s growth from an inquisitive young law school graduate into a model jurist and serious scholar of the U.S. Constitution. I have known “BK” as a law clerk, as a government lawyer, as a private practitioner and as a judge. In every capacity I have seen him apply intellectual rigor and sound logic to complex legal problems. In his role as a judge, I have watched him decide cases impartially with detailed written opinions that lay bare his reasoning, involving a range of issues and parties. I have watched him grow into a proud and loving husband and dad, dedicated coach and mentor, and valued teacher and adviser.
Many recent media articles feature quotes from people who appear to know Kavanaugh barely, if at all. I’ve known him for almost 30 years, and I’ve spoken on the record to loads of reporters about him, yet I have never been quoted in any story. Is this because I have nothing salacious to say? Whatever the reason, the result is a one-sided and inaccurate depiction.
The truth is that the Brett Kavanaugh I’ve known since 1991 is a good and decent man, a principled and disciplined jurist, and a rigorous and careful thinker. His nomination reflects the unparalleled record of achievement he has built up over the long course of his professional life. I trust that members of the Senate will cast their confirmation votes based on that record. And I hope that the next time I stand at the lectern of the Supreme Court, I have the honor to address my old friend as “Justice Kavanaugh.”
Mark A. Perry is a partner in the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
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