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The Education of Brett Kavanaugh

An Investigation

By Robin Pogrebin, Kate Kelly
18-minute read
Audio available
The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation by Robin Pogrebin, Kate Kelly

The Education of Brett Kavanaugh (2019) offers a thorough examination of the events surrounding the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Details around Kavanaugh’s time in high school and college are revealed through interviews with former classmates. The authors also explore the tumultuous political climate at the time of the confirmation process and the toll it took on all of the parties involved.  

  • Americans concerned about the legitimacy of government processes
  • News junkies looking for insight into controversial subjects
  • Anyone curious about the life of Brett Kavanaugh

Robin Pogrebin is a New York Times reporter who’s covered city news and media, and who now works at the Culture Desk, where she investigates the politics at work in our cultural institutions. She’s also worked at ABC News and the New York Observer, and she graduated from Yale University in 1987. 

Kate Kelly is a New York Times reporter who covers Wall Street. She’s also the author of Street Fighters (2009), a best-selling book about the recent financial crisis. She previously worked at CNBC, the New York Observer and the Wall Street Journal. She graduated from Columbia University in 1993.

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The Education of Brett Kavanaugh

An Investigation

By Robin Pogrebin, Kate Kelly
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation by Robin Pogrebin, Kate Kelly
Synopsis

The Education of Brett Kavanaugh (2019) offers a thorough examination of the events surrounding the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Details around Kavanaugh’s time in high school and college are revealed through interviews with former classmates. The authors also explore the tumultuous political climate at the time of the confirmation process and the toll it took on all of the parties involved.  

Key idea 1 of 11

Brett Kavanaugh’s high school was noted for its Catholicism, sports, drinking and casual misogyny.

In the 1970s, Brett Kavanaugh attended a private elementary school in Maryland called Mater Dei. Founded in 1960, this all-boys Catholic school promoted a very traditional form of manhood. It encouraged boys to grow up to be the kind of men who worked hard, played hard and prayed hard.

Many boys, including Kavanaugh, went on to attend the prestigious Georgetown Prep high school in Rockville, Maryland. This too is an all-boys Catholic school, with prayers said before every class and football game, and mandatory mass. The religious course that every student was required to take included lessons about exorcisms, wherein students listened to audio footage of a possessed child, and received blessings to keep the devil away.

Georgetown Prep was also a jock-centric school, with the most popular boys being members of the football or basketball teams. During his time there, Kavanaugh played football and was a diligent student who often ranked in the top three of his class. 

This all helped cement his reputation as one of the school’s elite jocks, whom other students believed to be recipients of unfair special treatment. Often, the non-athletic students would be shoved inside lockers, grabbed and put into headlocks, given humiliating nicknames or subjected to military-style hazing rituals.

Alongside this culture of casual violence at the school, misogyny was also pervasive. Boys received very little sex education and certainly no information on how to socialize with the opposite sex. Some former students now recognize that there was a general attitude that men were the dominant sex and that women were subject to what Georgetown Prep alumni Joe Conaghan called “jocular disdain.”

Signs of this attitude can be seen in the school's underground newspaper at the time, the Unknown Hoya. In an article entitled ‘The Truth About Holton,’ students at the nearby all-girls school, Holton-Arms, were referred to as “the most worthless excuses for human females.”

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