Kavanaugh praises new Supreme Court Justice Jackson: 'Thoroughly prepared'

Kavanaugh says the nine Supreme Court justices enjoy 'great relations' despite disagreements

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh offered praise for his new colleague Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson this week, telling an audience at the University of Notre Dame Law School that she has "hit the ground running."

Kavanaugh was present for a keynote Q&A session at the 2023 Notre Dame Law Review Federal Courts Symposium on Monday, where he addressed the perception that the Supreme Court is sharply divided on ideological grounds after a series of controversial decisions that went in favor of conservatives. 

Critics on the left have accused the 6-3 majority of Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices of undermining the court's legitimacy with rulings that have expanded gun rights and a highly controversial decision last June that overturned Roe v. Wade, declaring there is no constitutionally protected right to abortion. But according to Kavanaugh, the justices are still on friendly terms despite spirited disagreements. 

"There are great relations among all nine justices both personally and professionally. We only get tough cases, and we disagree on some of those. I think that's more nuanced than it is sometimes portrayed," Kavanaugh said.

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In 2022, a man was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home in Maryland for allegedly threatening violence towards the justice.

In 2022, a man was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home in Maryland for allegedly threatening violence towards the justice. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

On June 30, 2022, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, fourth from right, took the oath of office to become the 104th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

On June 30, 2022, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, fourth from right, took the oath of office to become the 104th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)

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He told the law students in the audience that the justices spend "an enormous amount of time" together, eating lunch after every oral argument and conference and becoming friends. 

"You can't talk about work at lunch. So, you talk about the things that you would talk about with your friends. You talk about your kids, you talk about movies, you talk about books, you talk about war stories … again and again," Kavanaugh said cheerfully.  

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President Biden listens as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 8, 2022, celebrating the confirmation of Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court.

President Biden listens as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 8, 2022, celebrating the confirmation of Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

He shared his experience joining the court after a contentious Senate confirmation hearing in which Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual misconduct and assault that Republicans called a "sham." 

Kavanaugh said that liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer "couldn't have been better at welcoming me to the court."

It's a courtesy he said the justices extended towards new Supreme Court appointees under both Presidents Trump and Biden. Kavanaugh praised Jackson, the latest addition to the court, as someone who is "fully prepared, thoroughly prepared" and "off to a great start." 

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"We miss Justice Ginsburg, of course, and Justice Breyer, but there's turnover, and it's wonderful to have two new colleagues who have fit in, in my judgment, fit in well with the group," he said.