National News

Kavanaugh Lifts Georgetown Prep to 2-0 With Trump Supreme Court Picks

Posted July 10, 2018 4:32 p.m. EDT

Brett Kavanaugh was a high school athlete at Georgetown Preparatory School. He played defensive back on the football team and was captain of the basketball team his senior year.

But on Monday he may have handed the school one of its biggest victories, with his selection by President Donald Trump to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice.

With the nomination of Kavanaugh, 53, now a federal appeals court judge, Georgetown Prep, an elite Jesuit high school just outside Washington, D.C., could have the distinction of having two alumni on the nation’s highest court.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, 50, who was two years behind Kavanaugh at the school, was Trump’s first pick for the Supreme Court and took the bench last year. Kavanaugh will join him if he is confirmed by the Senate.

Those with ties to the school reacted with pride Monday, noting that another alumnus, Jerome Powell, became chairman of the Federal Reserve this year.

“It’s been a good year for Prep graduates in public service, which is what the school has always been about,” said the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, who was president of Georgetown Prep until June 30, when he left to lead the University of Scranton.

Kavanaugh even gave the high school a shoutout in his speech Monday night. “The motto of my Jesuit high school was, ‘Men for others,'” he said. “I have tried to live that creed.”

In a statement after Trump’s announcement, Georgetown Prep noted that Kavanaugh had given his time as a mentor, volunteer and tutor. “We congratulate him on his nomination and we give thanks to him for his willingness to take on this very important role on behalf of the republic,” said the Rev. James R. Van Dyke, the school’s new president.

The school, which is in North Bethesda, Maryland, and has about 500 students, prides itself on its emphasis on academics and commitment to serving others. It was founded in 1789, the same year as the U.S. Supreme Court. The school says it is the oldest Roman Catholic boarding and day school for boys in the country.

Kavanaugh, a 1983 graduate, was known as a quiet leader on campus, according to people who taught and coached him in school.

Kevin Dowd, who coached Kavanaugh in basketball during his time at Georgetown Prep, said the future judge was a solid athlete who was easy to coach.

“My memory of him is that he wasn’t very vocal; he led by example,” Dowd said. But, he said, if other boys started to misbehave, “he would say something to get them back in line.”

Kavanaugh also wrote for the student newspaper, The Little Hoya, the school said.

Gorsuch, a 1985 graduate, was student body president his senior year. He was on the debate team, and in the forensics and international relations clubs, the school said.

“He was more extroverted,” said Stephen J. Ochs, a longtime Georgetown Prep history teacher who knew both men as students.

Kavanaugh, on the other hand, “was self-effacing,” he said.

Before the announcement Monday night, for which Kavanaugh was considered a front-runner, Ochs said his stomach was in knots — as if Georgetown Prep were playing a rival on the football field.

Dowd, whose sons went to Georgetown Prep, said the nomination was an honor for the school.

“Certainly it’s a feather in their cap,” Dowd said. “I just hope they don’t get carried away and raise tuition.”