Nearly all of federal appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s female law clerks—21 of the 25 he hired—later clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court, a fact touted in a letter sent Thursday to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kavanaugh, nominated Monday to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, has hired 48 law clerks—25 women and 23 men—since 2006, when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. At his nomination ceremony Monday, Kavanaugh said: “I look for the best. My law clerks come from diverse backgrounds and points of view. I am proud that a majority of my law clerks have been women.”
Kavanaugh’s female clerks went on to work for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor.
The 18 female law clerks who signed the letter—seven others were “precluded by our current or pending employment”—said they wanted to “convey our uniformly positive experiences with the judge as a boss on issues of gender and equality in the workplace.”
“We know all too well that women in the workplace still face challenges, inequality, and even harassment. Among other things, women do not enjoy a representative share of prestigious clerkships or high-profile legal positions. But this committee, and the American public more broadly, should be aware of the important work Judge Kavanaugh has done to remedy those disparities. In our view, the judge has been one of the strongest advocates in the federal judiciary for women lawyers.”
Kavanaugh was “a dedicated mentor to all of his clerks, men and women alike. He has counseled us on our career options, provided honest and highly valued recommendations to prospective employers, and sometimes given a much-needed nudge to those of us who doubted whether we were qualified to chase our ambitions.”
Kavanaugh was a former clerk to the disgraced Alex Kozinski, an ex-judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit who resigned last year amid an investigation of alleged sexual impropriety that involved law clerks. Kozinski denied any misconduct. The federal judiciary in June issued a report, in the aftermath of the Kozinski scandal, addressing workplace misconduct in the courts.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is being urged by some groups to question Kavanaugh about his clerkship for Kozinski, who praised his former clerk as a “positive delight” when he testified at his confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit.
The signatories on Thursday’s letter—posted in full below—included Caroline Van Zile, an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Julia Malkina, a Sullivan & Cromwell associate; Sarah Pitlyk, special counsel to the Thomas More Society; Jennifer Mascott, a professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School; Katie Wellington, a Hogan Lovells associate; Morgan Goodspeed, an assistant to the U.S. solicitor general; Caroline Edsall Littleton, an associate at Jones Day; Zina Bash, senior counsel to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Porter Wilkinson, chief of staff to the regents of the Smithsonian Institution.