Brett Kavanaugh Held a Door for Me Once When My Hands Were Full With Groceries

Illustration for article titled Brett Kavanaugh Held a Door for Me Once When My Hands Were Full With Groceries
Image: AP

Much has been written about Brett Kavanaugh’s legal decisions and policy statements, which will no doubt be put under a microscope during his still-unscheduled confirmation hearing. I’d like to talk about a less well-known side of the Supreme Court nominee: the man who held open a door for me while I was carrying four bags of groceries.


I got to know this side of Judge Kavanaugh on Wednesday evening while struggling to open the door at Petco. In addition to the four bags of groceries I was carrying, I had almond milk and three cans of whole peeled tomatoes in a tote bag slung over my right shoulder, forcing me into an uncomfortable kind of leaning hunch. The straps of the tote bag were also pulling at my long hair, which I had forgotten to put into a bun before beginning the walk from Whole Foods to Petco.

While some have claimed that Judge Kavanaugh has a record of siding with large corporations and against undocumented teenagers in need of an abortion while in government custody, that is not the man I have come to know. Noticing my obvious distress at the Petco door—I was trying to catch it with my hip while two of my four bags were set awkwardly between my legs—Judge Kavanaugh, who was also trying to enter the Petco, reached his hand above my head, steadied the door and said, “I got it.”

I took up my bags and thanked him. Another woman walked up, also trying to enter the Petco. Rather than enter the Petco after me, Judge Kavanaugh held the door for her as well. This powerful man, who admires the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for his dissent in Roe v. Wade and upheld South Carolina’s restrictive voter identification law, took the time out of his day to help two women in need of pet supplies. You probably won’t hear about that man in the stories scrutinizing his views on presidential immunity and whether or not the military should have broad authority to detain people on weak evidence, but that is the man I know.

While some on the left have warned that confirming Judge Kavanaugh will have devastating national consequences that will be felt for a generation, his positive attitude and calm demeanor in that moment of door-opening had an enduringly positive impact on me: once inside the Petco, I felt restored enough to set down all of my bags, collect my thoughts, and tie my hair up in a bun.

His critics will point to his work on behalf of organizations that oppose affirmative action or a decision upholding a voter suppression law that disproportionately impacted black voters to say that Judge Kavanaugh will be a be a force against racial justice, but I am here to tell you that he is a champion for women of color: the second woman he held the door for at Petco looked racially ambiguous to me, possibly Asian.

I’ll leave it to others to weigh Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the Supreme Court as a jurist. But I know, should he have the honor of being confirmed, he would bring to his work the traits of personal kindness and door-opening, and would receive a unanimous “yes” vote from those who know the man behind the image (me and this other woman from Petco).



Ok, look.

From what I’ve read at this point, Kavanaugh is indeed a very, very conservative jurist, he’s made a lot of decisions I disagree with, and I’m certain that if he’s confirmed, he’ll make many more. People have valid concerns about him on that basis, and I’m not going to minimize the harm those decisions will cause.

But, the people who’ve worked with him also seem to believe he’s a decent guy who reads broadly and who thinks carefully about his positions. That plus his credentials would put him on basically any list of potential nominees for any Republican president. If President Cruz / Romney / McCain / Rubio had picked Kavanaugh, it still would have be gross because of the theft of the Garland nomination, but it would have been less gross.

But I’m convinced that the reason Trump picked Kavanaugh over everyone else is his writings about deferring criminal investigation and civil litigation for a sitting president. Smart people have written thoughtful arguments about why Kavanaugh’s views aren’t as favorable to Trump as they may seem, but I guarantee you Trump didn’t get that nuance. He heard, “Wait—this guy thinks presidents shouldn’t even be investigated? That’s my dude!”

I think the Kavanaugh pick was Trump’s deliberate and not particularly subtle attempt to make the Court more likely to stymy the Russia Investigation in any matter that may come before it. In other words, he was picked in bad faith by a president who is currently a subject of an active criminal investigation into whether he and/or his campaign coordinated with a hostile foreign power to influence an election.

And that, by itself, is reason to stop his nomination by any lawful means necessary.