Kavanaugh’s Elite Prep School Privilege and Entitlement Pervades His Political and Legal Career

Interview with independent journalist JoAnn Wypijewski, co-editor of the book, "Killing Trayvons,” conducted by Scott Harris

The testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the Senate Judiciary committee on Sept. 27 was a study in contrasts.   Where Ford calmly and confidently recounted the night she says that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school get-together in 1982, Kavanaugh was alternately weepy and belligerent, charging that a left-wing conspiracy was out to destroy his life.
Apart from multiple accusations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s conduct at his confirmation hearing has raised serious questions about his honesty and temperament, qualities deemed critical in selecting a Supreme Court Justice whose given a lifetime appointment. 
With Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s demand for an FBI investigation into Ford’s and other sexual assault allegations made against Kavanaugh, the Republican-controlled Senate was forced to delay a final vote on his confirmation. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with independent journalist JoAnn Wypijewski who talks about her recent Counterpunch article, “What Brett Kavanaugh Really Learned in High School: Make the Rules, Break the Rules and Prosper,” which examines the privilege and entitlement Brett Kavanaugh took with him from his elite prep school to his partisan political activism and legal career.

JOANN WYPIJEWSKI: Now, we continue to be in this situation where people are saying, “‘Well, I believe her.’ ‘I believe him.'” And I certainly believe her a whole lot more than I did before those hearings, and I find him even more unqualified to be a justice on the Supreme Court than I had before. And really, even if he is completely innocent, I think his behavior at the hearings (was that of) a figure unhinged, a figure of tremendous self-importance and self-regard, a bully, a highly, highly partisan individual. A person who was dismissive of women, who was angry. You expect him to be angry. He would be inhuman if he wasn’t angry, but the vitriol with which he spewed his conspiracy theories and with which he responded to the questions. The way he didn’t answer questions. The way he was evasive and the way he flat out lied. And now I think that’s how he ought to be judged. And I think this Senate hearing was set up to say, “Do we believe her? Do we believe him?” There was no evidence put into the record there. It was not a court. It was not a trial. It was, as they kept saying, a job interview. And I really think after that performance, who would hire such a figure?

BETWEEN THE LINES: You took Brett Kavanaugh’s high school experience and really fast forwarded to his work in the George W. Bush administration working on issues such as torture that was authorized by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11.

JOANN WYPIJEWSKI: So here’s a guy, he’s in high school. He’s with a lot of kids who are privileged to be in that school. Most of them are upper middle class or better. He is part of a world – you know, his father’s a lobbyist. His mother’s a judge. A lot of people jump off from that school into higher realms. But really, they’re young, they’re drunk, they’re breaking the law, right? These kids, by the many stories we’ve heard in the press, they rented beach houses out in Maryland. They ripped those beach houses up. They destroyed the houses of their friends. Nobody was sent to jail. Brett Kavanaugh was, in his yearbook, he says he was a member of Rehobeth Beach Police Fan Club. The police would regularly come to these houses, tell them to to knock it off, tell them to quiet down. They didn’t have to ever pay for anything they did.

So you get that sense if you’re a kid and you can break the rules and then you go to college that tells you that you’re special, you’re going to be part of the ruling class, that you’re there because you’re the very best and you know you’re the very best and you know there’s no accountability for your actions at all. This is what you hear your whole life. This is what’s impressed upon you your whole life.

Then you get into the White House and you’re with a lot of people who are saying, “It doesn’t matter if we break the law. It doesn’t matter if we pay attention to international law. It doesn’t matter if we arrest people who are Muslims in Afghanistan and we’re going to put them in a prison in Cuba – Guantanamo – we’re going to send them to black sites all over the place. We’re going to torture them. We’re going to ignore international commitments. We’re going to ignore everything. We can do it because we’re the bully on the block.”

And I think these kids were bullies on the block when they were youths and I think they got used to lying and I think they got used to having their way. And what’s so clear about Brett Kavanaugh is he dissembled or outright lied to Congress about his participation in at least one discussion of the torture program, the detention program without, you know, the end of habeas corpus that was going on in the Bush administration. He dissembled or outright lied about other things – you know, whether he got documents that belonged to the Democrats. He was not truthful in all his testimony during those hearings. So he has a record, you know, between what he said in what Blasey Ford said. She was much more credible than he was. But he has a record of dissembling and evasion and he has a record of being someone who thinks the rules don’t apply to him and don’t apply to his class and his group.

The fact that he signed onto a case that was whether Titan and Caci, which are private contractors that supplied interrogators and translators to the U.S. government to work in black sites and in Abu Ghraib prison (in Iraq), and he signed onto the decision there saying that the people who were victimized, who were tortured by these contractors in Iraq couldn’t sue for civil liability, couldn’t sue Titan and Caci. And this decision he signed onto was so obscure and so remote and basically just saying that we have to protect Titan and Caci. We have to protect these corporations. And you completely forget what the subject is. Once you read, as you’re reading this tortured prose, sorry for the word, but until you get to Merrick Garland, of all people, his dissent in the same case. And there in the center at the very front of his dissent is the human person. You know, beaten, blinded, humiliated, strung up, shocked, raped, forced to watch his father die, extinguished. That’s what you get from Merrick Garland. From Brett Kavanaugh, you get the sense that “how do we set the rules to get the rich guys off?”

But it did get back to your question about high school in that one of the things that was so striking about his performance at the Senate was his absolute sense that he’d been denied something he deserves by right. This incredible entitlement. And you know, we hear this word a lot, but that’s what really came through for me watching the hearings was how enraged he was mostly for himself. How his humanity didn’t seem to extend much beyond himself and how his interests fundamentally were about his having gone to the right schools. Him having worked his tail off – worked, worked, worked – how he deserves this moment. And you know, nobody deserves to be on the Supreme Court and certainly no one who probably was a blackout drunk in high school.

Independent journalist JoAnn Wypijewski is co-editor of the book, “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence.” 

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