Brett Kavanaugh’s former women law clerks who were willing to discuss the fast-moving controversy surrounding his Supreme Court nomination still support him as he prepares to defend himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee from an accusation of sexual misconduct.
Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who accused Kavanaugh, came forward publicly to give details of the alleged sexual assault that occurred while both were in high school during the 1980s. On Monday, Kavanaugh and Ford said they were willing to testify, and the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing for Monday, Sept. 24.
Kavanaugh, according to Ford’s account, was stumbling drunk when he pinned her to a bed, groped her and covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Ford said she thought Kavanaugh, then 17, might inadvertently kill her. Kavanaugh has “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegations.
“I remain fully supportive of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He is a man of excellent character and excellent qualifications, and he would make an excellent Supreme Court justice,” said Caroline Edsall Littleton, a Jones Day associate in Washington who clerked for Kavanaugh in 2011 and 2012.
Another former clerk, Rebecca Taibleson, who clerked for Kavanaugh in 2010, said her “level of support has not changed at all.” Taibleson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Wisconsin, testified on his behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 6 and was one of 18 of Kavanaugh’s female clerks who joined in a letter supporting him on July 12.
The letter stressed “our uniformly positive experiences with the Judge as a boss on issues of gender and equality in the workplace.” Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006, has made a point of his efforts to hire and mentor women and minorities as clerks since he became a circuit judge in 2006.
Seventeen of the 18 letter-signers were contacted by The National Law Journal by email or phone to ascertain their observations on the latest developments and their level of support for the judge. Seven of the signers responded. Two lawyers from private practice responded, but declined to provide an on-the-record comment.
“Judge Kavanaugh has my full support,” said Porter Wilkinson Wall, who clerked for Kavanaugh a decade ago. “He is a man of honor and the highest integrity. I am not alone in this assessment. Women from every phase of his life have written to the Senate Judiciary Committee to vouch for his character, kindness, and generosity.” She is on temporary leave from her position as an official of the Smithsonian Institution.
Jennifer Mascott, a professor at Antonin Scalia Law School who also testified before the committee, said, “As a law clerk for Judge Kavanaugh during his first year on the bench from 2006-07, I have known Judge Kavanaugh and his family for 12 years. I deeply respect and admire Judge Kavanaugh. Yes, I stand with the statement that I signed on behalf of Judge Kavanaugh.”
Former Kavanaugh clerk Sarah Pitlyk, who has known the judge for more than 10 years, said “the recent allegation is flatly inconsistent with everything I know of him.” Pitlyk, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, added: “In light of the overwhelming evidence of his integrity and good character, it is very hard to find this allegation credible, especially when it has come to light in such a transparently politically-motivated manner.”
Travis Lenkner, a Kavanaugh clerk who has helped coordinate communications among fellow clerks since Kavanaugh was nominated in July, said, “it is impossible to conceive of his having engaged in the behavior that has been alleged from 36 years ago.”