Chevy Chase resident Brett Kavanaugh could be mistaken for many suburban fathers in Montgomery County.
He has a high-paying government job, and he lives in a small, wealthy community. Like many County residents, he has both an undergraduate and master’s degree from a prestigious university. He coaches his daughters’ basketball games on the weekends.
If you were not following the news, it night be easy to mistake Kavanaugh for just another Montgomery County resident – and not a nominee for the United States Supreme Court.
On Monday, President Donald J. Trump appointed Kavanaugh as an associate justice to the Supreme Court, replacing the outgoing justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh, who is currently a U.S. circuit judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is a resident of Chevy Chase and has deep ties to Montgomery County.
Kavanaugh credited his mother, Martha Kavanaugh, a former Montgomery County circuit court judge with being his legal inspiration. “My introduction to law came at our dinner table, where she practiced her closing arguments, “Kavanaugh said of his mother. “Her trademark lines was, ‘Use your common sense. What rings true? What rings false?’ That’s good advice for a juror and for a son.”
“I've never had a political conversation or a deep judicial philosophy conversation with Brett...I talk to him much more about the Nationals,” said Greg Chernack, a neighbor of Kavanaugh’s in Chevy Chase.
Chernack, who is the chair of the Village of Chevy Chase Section 5 Town Council, has gotten to know both Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley, well over the last few years, especially since Ashley serves as the village’s town manager. Chernack said that the Kavanaughs can often be found at neighborhood events, especially the Fourth of July parade in which Brett Kavanaugh serves as the community’s “traffic cop.”
Chernack said while he may disagree with some of Kavanaugh’s rulings, he described Kavanaugh as “down to earth.”
Kavanaugh, like Trump’s last appointment to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is an alumnus of Georgetown Prep. During his announcement ceremony, Kavanaugh credited his Jesuit education at Georgetown for helping guide his worldview.
“The motto of my Jesuit high school was ‘men for others;’ I’ve tried to live that creed,” Kavanaugh said during his announcement ceremony on Monday.
One of Kavanaugh’s classmates from Georgetown Prep, State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18), said he was anxious that Trump appointed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court because he worries that Kavanaugh could vote to overturn the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states – an issue that Madalano said touches him personally.
“Tonight I wonder if his commitment to being a man for others considers me too much of an ‘other’ to be guaranteed the same rights he probably takes for granted,” Madaleno wrote in a statement. “I hope Brett Kavanaugh might think about his gay high-school classmates when he is presented with a case that will shape my life and my family.”
Both Maryland senators criticized Kavanaugh. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), promised to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. While Sen. Ben Cardin (D) did not say which way he plans to vote, he instead asked his fellow senators to “think carefully” about Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
Prior to his appointment as a judge, Kavanaugh worked for Special Prosecutor Ken Starr, as Starr conducted an investigation into President Bill Clinton, which led to his impeachment. Later, Kavanaugh served as an associate counsel for President George W. Bush, while his wife, Ashley, worked as the personal secretary for President Bush.
But while Kavanaugh and his wife have held high-profile Washington jobs for more than a decade, the two fit into their community like any other family, neighbors say.
Kavanaugh’s coaching of his daughters’ basketball teams has earned him the nickname “Coach K," a tongue-and-cheek reference to legendary Duke University Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who goes by the same nickname.
Chernack said he can easily imagine him continuing his hobby as “Coach K," while also serving as a justice on the Supreme Court.
“He's certainly not going to stay out of his girls’ lives,” Chernack said.