Federal Courts and Nominations

Kavanaugh Hires All-Female Clerk Staff in First for Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has followed through on his promise to hire an all-female clerk staff, a first for a judge serving on the high court, The New York Times reported.

Kavanaugh said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate last month that he had provisionally hired an all-female clerk staff before three women accused him of sexual assault. With the addition of Kavanaugh’s clerks, women now comprise a majority of Supreme Court clerks for the first time.

Although new justices commonly hire former clerks, Kavanaugh did not.

Shannon Grammel, Megan Lacy and Sara Nommensen served for other appeals court judges, while only Kim Jackson had previously worked for Kavanaugh, the Times reported.

Jackson is black, and supporters of Kavanaugh have noted that two of three African-American clerks currently serving at the court had previously worked for the newest appointee, The Washington Post reported.

Critics have expressed strong concerns that Kavanaugh could rule in ways that detrimentally affect women’s rights. Many are particularly concerned that he could help overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision legalizing abortion.

“I applaud in general a commitment to hiring a diverse group of clerks, and hope all the justices encourage applicants of color, women and those with backgrounds beyond the usual elite,” said Elizabeth Wydra, the president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, which opposed the judge’s appointment. “Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot more than female clerks to undo the damage to the legitimacy of the court done by this travesty of a confirmation process. Women will feel much more confident in the court when their fundamental rights are protected and their equal dignity is respected in the rulings handed down by the justices.”

During his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh emphasized that he had a record of treating women with respect and hiring them as law clerks. Six of his former clerks, four of whom are women, are working on the Supreme Court this term.

“My women law clerks said I was one of the strongest advocates in the federal judiciary for women lawyers,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “In my time on the bench, no federal judge—not a single one in the country—has sent more women law clerks to clerk on the Supreme Court than I have.”

Amy Chua, a top Yale Law School professor, reportedly instructed women to dress with a “model-like” femininity when interviewing with Kavanaugh to help their chances of being hired, The Guardian reported.

Chua, who held a major role in screening the clerks sent to Kavanaugh, denied the claims.

“Everything that is being said about the advice I give to students applying to Brett Kavanaugh—or any judge—is outrageous, 100% false, and the exact opposite of everything I have stood for and said for the last 15 years,” she wrote in a letter to the Yale Law School community.

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