In Speech About Being An Impartial Judge, Kavanaugh Discloses Close Friendships With Corporate Elite

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:07:00 GMT

In a 2015 address to Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh discusses his friendships with and envy of America’s corporate elite. Arguing in favor of an “impartial” judiciary, Kavanaugh discusses how he knows these men, whether from his days at the boy’s-only Georgetown Prep, Yale, in the George W. Bush White House, or at the corporate law powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis.

In his prepared remarks for the speech given March 30, 2015, Kavanaugh planned to make a joke about how popular one of his wealthiest friends, Mike Bidwell, is:
I am proud to say that three Georgetown Prep classmates of mine—Mike Bidwill, Don Urgo, and Phil Merkle—happen to be 1990 graduates of this law school. They remain very good friends of mine, and they well reflect the values and excellence of both Georgetown Prep and this law school. You may recognize Mike Bidwill’s name. He is the President of the Arizona Cardinals football team. I am pretty sure he is on the Dean’s speed dial. Yet he is the same humble, generous, friendly guy he was when he was fourteen years old.
Kavanaugh diverged from his prepared remarks, however:
By coincidence, three classmates of mine at Georgetown Prep were graduates of this law school in 1990. And are really really good friends of mine: Mike Bidwill, Don Urgo and Phil Merkle. And they were good friends of mine then. And are still good friends of mine; as recently as this weekend, when we were all on email together.

Bidwill has used his team’s website to support Kavanaugh’s nomination. As Deadspin writer Samer Kalaf notes, he then “went on a conservative radio show to continue to push for his old high school pal” and “bellyached about how unfair it is to be criticized for requiring that NFL players only protest or demonstrate where no one can see them.”

Don Urgo Jr. is a corporate lawyer who now helps run his father’s hotel management business, Urgo Hotels & Resorts.

Philip Merkle is the director of the Office of Administration at the U.S. Department of Justice. He has worked at DOJ since 1996.

Kavanaugh continued:
But fortunately, we had a good saying that we’ve held firm to to this day, as the Dean was reminding me before the talk, which is, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.” That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.

This line earned some mild chuckles from the audience.

Now that Kavanaugh is in line to join fellow Georgetown Prep alumnus Neil Gorsuch on the highest court in the land, it appears that “what happens at Georgetown Prep” may not stay there. He and fellow classmate Mark G. Judge have been accused of sexual assault by professor Christine Blasey Ford. There is no statute of limitations on such a crime in Maryland.

Kavanaugh continued:
The Dean [Dan Attridge] is a wonderful man. He and I worked together at Kirkland and Ellis. We had memorable cases and lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis. I think back at those times.
Dan Attridge’s Kirkland & Ellis page notes one of his “ground-breaking” victories:
Counsel for Nationwide Insurance in over 400 Hurricane Katrina coverage cases in Mississippi, winning the ground-breaking first case to go to trial and defeating the Attorney General’s challenge to the policy’s flood exclusion.

Attridge’s victory cost Katrina victims billions of dollars in damages. Immediately after the ruling, insurance company stocks rose by 2 percent.

At the time, Kavanaugh was working in the Bush White House, as the administration’s racist neglect in the run-up to and aftermath of Katrina led to the death of 3000 Americans. The White House and Senator Grassley have refused to make public Kavanaugh’s role in the Katrina disaster.

Kavanaugh went on to describe his envy of another fellow corporate lawer:
And one person comes to mind that we worked with, was a guy who was a little younger than I was, named Ted Ullyot. And Ted was a great lawyer, great guy, and he worked with us at Kirkland. Then, when I was at the White House and became this job called staff secretary, I had to hire a deputy. And Ted was a great lawyer and I brought him in as my deputy. And then I went on to be a judge. And I remember getting a call from him in 2007 or 2008. And he said, “Yeah, I’m gonna go take this job in California.” “Oh wow, doing what?” “I’m gonna be general counsel of this company.” And I had never heard of the company he was talking about. It was a general counsel of Facebook. And that turned out to be a really good move. Yeah. And that’s been a…

You know, I am committed to public service, as I said, but I do spend some time reading Robert Frost, “The road not taken.”

Ullyot also served a chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Ullyot is now a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Kavanaugh then went back to his prepared remarks to say that he believes in being an impartial judge.