The New Yorker Cites 'Expert' Claiming Kavanaugh's Sports Reporting Shows Support for 'Unlimited Presidential Power'

Brett Kavanaugh
Brett Kavanaugh / Getty Images
August 20, 2018

The New Yorker asked those it deemed experts on the subject to scour Brett Kavanaugh's college sports reporting for "clues" to the Supreme Court nominee’s views and shared the their insights in a piece included in the magazine's Aug. 27 issue.

Most of the journalists and law professors approached by The New Yorker responded that, yes, Kavanaugh's coverage of Ivy League basketball for the Yale Daily News really did provide insight in his judicial philosophy, mostly in negative ways.

"No one was ever shooting room temperature," Sports Illustrated's Steve Rushin said after reading Kavanaugh's reports. "Everyone was either blazing or ice-cold. In one single sentence: ‘As torrid as Yale’s shooting had been twenty-four hours earlier, it was ice cold in this contest.'"

Why is that important? Well according to Rushin, that could suggest Kavanaugh holds to "a kind of good-evil, hot-cold, Manichean world view."

"His tendency to approach his stories from the angles set forth by the coach indicates that he doesn’t want to buck authority figures," Northwestern sports journalism professor J. A. Adande suggested. "It would make sense if he supported unlimited Presidential power."

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe suggested Kavanaugh's reporting that in basketball "it is possible for one person to completely dominate a game" was problematic. "Kavanaugh’s seeming fascination with single-player domination might be a muscular view of executive power," he argued.

On the other hand, Tribe noted that "Kavanaugh complained that the refs let the game ‘get completely out of control’ as Dartmouth players ‘consistently hammered’ a Yalie ‘without the whistle blowing’ once. One might see in that a rare early condemnation of judicial restraint."

Kavanaugh's lone defender was prominent Yale Law professor William Eskridge, Jr., who supports his nomination and argued Adande oversold Kavanaugh's deference to authority. "What he’s criticizing in Brett’s sports articles is Brett is too deferential to the subjective understandings of the original coaches," he said.

But even Eskridge tut-tutted Kavanaugh's boring prose, complaining he "would’ve expected more color and humor, particularly for a student newspaper—for goodness’ sake, have some fun, kids!"