Nearly 2,000 lawyers who are mothers—including partners and associates from Big Law firms across the country—joined together in a letter supporting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as she prepares to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while both were in high school.
“We have followed the heated debate over Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy,” the letter stated. “We have watched with growing concern as questions mount regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s truthfulness, judgment, and character. As practitioners who interact with the judiciary on a daily basis, we thank you for coming forward to make that bench stronger through critical examination of those nominated to serve as judges.”
The letter was addressed to both Ford and the Senate Judiciary Committee, and as of Sunday night it contained 1,989 signatures. Kavanaugh, represented by Beth Wilkinson of Washington’s Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz, has categorically denied Ford’s claims. “Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation,” a White House spokesman said last week.
The letter’s signers are identified by their name and state. The letter, which was disseminated on social media, did not identify where the lawyers worked. Many of the signatories are employed at large and small firms, as well as nonprofit groups, law schools and government agencies.
“As women, attorneys, Americans, and mothers, we stand with and are deeply grateful to Dr. Blasey Ford for coming forward with this information.” said Morghan Richardson, a partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron in New York and one of the organizers of the letter campaign.
Richardson said the effort was launched last Thursday by what she described as “a secret Facebook group for mothers who are lawyers,” with 11,000 members in the United States, Canada and worldwide. The group will vet new signers for their legal affiliation and status as mothers. “We are keeping the message non-partisan. This is about listening to women,” Richardson said Monday.
Among the signers were: Caroline Bullerjahn, a Goodwin Procter partner in Boston; Karen Grant-Selma, vice president at DreamWorks Animation in Los Angeles; senior associate Jennifer Simmen Lewin of King & Spalding in Atlanta; Nicole Chandonnet, a Covington & Burling associate in Washington; Trisha Mowbray, a Jones Day partner in Chicago; Heather Arbogast, a McGuireWoods associate in Baltimore; Tara Castillo, an Alston & Bird partner in Washington; Ariella Thal Simonds, a Sidley Austin associate in Los Angeles; Joanna S. Waldstreicher, a Federal Election Commission lawyer; Danna Kivell, a Ropes & Gray associate in New York; and Hadar Harris, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington.
“The group from which we are drawn prides itself on its diversity—of race, geography, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, legal practice, and political affiliation,” the letter stated. “Despite our differences, we share a few core attributes: we are women, we are (active and inactive) members of the legal bar across the United States, and we are mothers. Above all, we support other women. In particular, we support women who take a stand to call out and fight injustice in many forms, including all manner of personal and professional abuse that targets or disproportionately affects women.”
The signers called on the Senate to “react with concern and attention” to Ford’s testimony, and told Ford, “As you face attacks from the press, the public, and in particular Judge Kavanaugh’s supporters, take heart in knowing that we all stand in solidarity with you.”
Kavanaugh’s supporters have also ramped up their public relations push. On Friday, a group of female friends and former colleagues of Kavanaugh—sharing experiences that span the judge’s early life and professional career—gathered on a stage in Washington in a show of support.
One Kavanaugh friend and former colleague, Laura Cox Kaplan, dismissed Ford’s claims as unsubstantiated. “Anyone can launch an allegation without corroboration or evidence and dismantle a career and the lives of their family members,” Kaplan said Friday. “This is wrong.”