Much has been written about Brett Kavanaugh’s legal decisions and policy statements, which will no doubt be put under a microscope during his still-unscheduled confirmation hearing. I’d like to talk about a less well-known side of the Supreme Court nominee: the man who held open a door for me while I was carrying four bags of groceries.
I got to know this side of Judge Kavanaugh on Wednesday evening while struggling to open the door at Petco. In addition to the four bags of groceries I was carrying, I had almond milk and three cans of whole peeled tomatoes in a tote bag slung over my right shoulder, forcing me into an uncomfortable kind of leaning hunch. The straps of the tote bag were also pulling at my long hair, which I had forgotten to put into a bun before beginning the walk from Whole Foods to Petco.
While some have claimed that Judge Kavanaugh has a record of siding with large corporations and against undocumented teenagers in need of an abortion while in government custody, that is not the man I have come to know. Noticing my obvious distress at the Petco door—I was trying to catch it with my hip while two of my four bags were set awkwardly between my legs—Judge Kavanaugh, who was also trying to enter the Petco, reached his hand above my head, steadied the door and said, “I got it.”
I took up my bags and thanked him. Another woman walked up, also trying to enter the Petco. Rather than enter the Petco after me, Judge Kavanaugh held the door for her as well. This powerful man, who admires the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for his dissent in Roe v. Wade and upheld South Carolina’s restrictive voter identification law, took the time out of his day to help two women in need of pet supplies. You probably won’t hear about that man in the stories scrutinizing his views on presidential immunity and whether or not the military should have broad authority to detain people on weak evidence, but that is the man I know.
While some on the left have warned that confirming Judge Kavanaugh will have devastating national consequences that will be felt for a generation, his positive attitude and calm demeanor in that moment of door-opening had an enduringly positive impact on me: once inside the Petco, I felt restored enough to set down all of my bags, collect my thoughts, and tie my hair up in a bun.
His critics will point to his work on behalf of organizations that oppose affirmative action or a decision upholding a voter suppression law that disproportionately impacted black voters to say that Judge Kavanaugh will be a be a force against racial justice, but I am here to tell you that he is a champion for women of color: the second woman he held the door for at Petco looked racially ambiguous to me, possibly Asian.
I’ll leave it to others to weigh Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the Supreme Court as a jurist. But I know, should he have the honor of being confirmed, he would bring to his work the traits of personal kindness and door-opening, and would receive a unanimous “yes” vote from those who know the man behind the image (me and this other woman from Petco).