Former President George W. Bush appointed Brett Kavanaugh as a federal judge in 2006. His Texas-born wife, who also worked for Bush, stands by his side. Justice Anthony Kennedy swears him in.
The Dez Bryant moment from the 2015 NFC divisional-round playoff game that sparked the debate.
President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee Monday night, in a prime time televised event.
As we digest the news of the new Supreme Court justice nomination, we’re reminded of that time Brett Kavanaugh addressed the Marquette University Law School and tackled the issue of whether Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant caught the ball or not in Green Bay.
“It’s better when the rules governing a catch are set forth before Dez Bryant falls to the ground,” Kavanaugh said in the 2015 speech, as detailed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel at the time. “Because the rule said, that was it.
“If we can do it in the NFL, we can do it here as well.”
The presumed future Supreme Court judge knew how to play to his Cheesehead audience because Bryant’s unforgettable moment played out in Lambeau Field against Wisconsin’s beloved Green Bay Packers. To jog your memory, Bryant appeared to make a leaping catch over cornerback Sam Shields in the fourth quarter of the 2015 NFC second round playoff game. He momentarily lost control of the ball (or did he?) after reaching for the goal line and hitting the ground.
The play was challenged, but referees declared it was not a catch. The Packers went on to win, 26-21, denying (or robbing) the Cowboys of what many felt was the franchise’s best chance to make a Super Bowl run in the Tony Romo era.
Kavanaugh’s speech paralleled the did-he-or-didn’t-he-catch-it moment with the rules and regulations governing the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. He believes if “the rules of the road are set before time” then both the NFL and the government can operate more efficiently and smoothly.
We’re not expecting the question “Did Dez catch the ball?” to come up in Kavanaugh’s Senatorial confirmation hearings, but maybe the question will make it all the way to the Supreme Court to settle this once and for all. Who knows?
Born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Kavanaugh is a Washington Redskins fan. (Is it any wonder he ruled against the Cowboys?) Travis Lenker, former law clerk for Kavanaugh, told PBS that “[Kavanaugh] can still recite the section and seat number of the upper deck seats his dad had at RFK [Stadium] for the Redskins.”
Kavanaugh turned into a Bulldog fan as he headed to Yale University for undergrad and law school. He went on to clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, and could end up taking Kennedy’s spot on the bench (depending on the Senate’s decision). He became well known in the ‘90s when he helped write the Starr Report that included graphic details about former President Bill Clinton’s White House relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Former President George W. Bush picked Kavanaugh as a top White House lawyer. In 2003, Bush appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he still works today.
Kavanaugh is a conservative judge and an originalist – meaning he thinks the Constitution should be interpreted exactly how it was written. Former Justice Antonin Scalia was also an originalist. Scalia passed away in 2016 on his ranch in Marfa, which led to President Donald Trump’s first SCOTUS nomination — Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is 50 years old. The 53-year-old Kavanaugh is Trump’s second SCOTUS nomination.
A position on the Supreme Court means you are in for life, and Trump’s first appointment is the youngest justice on the bench. Kavanaugh would become the second youngest.
They’d better find a cozy spot on that bench.
Kavanaugh’s True Texas Wife
Kavanaugh and his wife are no strangers to government. Houston-raised President George W. Bush jokes that he arranged Kavanaugh’s marriage with Ashley Estes Kavanaugh. The couple met in the Bush Administration, where she served as an assistant in the White House and as Bush’s personal secretary from 2001 to 2005.
Ashley Kavanaugh has deep Texas roots. She was born in Abilene, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, and worked with Bush when he was governor of Texas. We know she cheers for UT when it comes to sports.
In Brett Kavanaugh’s 2006 speech after his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he said, “Ashley’s parents are here, and I thank them for coming. Ashley likes to remind me that true love, true love is a Texas girl who is willing to marry a guy with a lifetime appointment in Washington, D.C.”
Looks like you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.
Ashley Kavanaugh currently works as the town manager of the Village of Chevy Chase, Maryland. The Kavanaughs have two daughters — Margaret and Liza — and live in D.C. Brett Kavanaugh coaches his daughters in basketball.
We know that he is teaching them to play strictly by the rules.