High Court Nominee Extends Ivy League Trend

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

On Monday night, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be his second Supreme Court Justice.

Kavanaugh, who received his degree from Yale Law, continues the trend of justices who received their law degree from an Ivy League school.

Nine Of Nine Justices Are Ivy League Alumni

Every one of the nine justices, including outgoing Justice Kennedy, received their law degrees from an Ivy League university, according to Fortune, with five having gone to Harvard Law, three to Yale Law, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg having attended Harvard Law before transferring to Columbia Law. According to Fortune, nearly every single Supreme Court Justice appointed since the 1980s has attended either Harvard or Yale, with the exception of Ginsburg.

Another exception? Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed under then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981, received her law degree from Stanford University.

Speculation About Possible Candidates

Prior to Kavanaugh’s nomination, media outlets speculated about a list of 25 possible candidates. Among the 25, three-quarters received law degrees from schools that weren’t Yale Law or Harvard Law. Eight of the potential nominees graduated from law schools outside the “T-14,” or top 14 ranking law schools, according to Law.com.

“Obviously, it would be a significant development to have someone from our school on the court — someone with close ties to the school,” Tulane University Law Dean David Meyer tells Law.com.

Kavanaugh Is A Rather Conventional Choice

President Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a rather conventional decision.

According to Pew Research, the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was 49 at the time of his nomination, saw a relatively young member addition to the court. Among all former justices prior to Gorsuch, the average age for new members when sworn in was 53 years old. On average, justices have served for 16.9 years with tenure ending around the average age of 69.

When looking at those numbers, Kavanaugh, who is 53 years old, fits the mold quite nicely.

Kavanaugh also is vying to be one of a long list of white men on the nation’s highest court. Nearly every former Supreme Court justice was white and of European descent until Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice, broke that pattern in 1967, according to Pew Research.

Since Marshall’s nomination, two more non-white members have also been appointed including Clarence Thomas (the second black justice to be appointed) in 1991 and Sonia Sotomayor (the first Hispanic justice) in 2009. O’Connor also made history by becoming the first female appointed justice in 1981. Since then, there have been three more female justices: Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

Sources: L.A. Times, Fortune, Law.com, Pew Research