Former U.S. solicitors general and other lawyers from major firms spoke out in favor of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, giving him a unanimous boost on the final day of his confirmation hearing.
“We can aspire to a judiciary that will be prepared, perceptive, competent, open-minded, honest and respectful,” said former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “That is the jurist that is Brett Kavanaugh. He is the kind of person and judge that we expect and deserve on the Supreme Court.”
More than once, Olson said that “I have heard nothing but the highest praise” for Kavanaugh from lawyers he comes in contact with.
The testimony of lawyers who are not necessarily affiliated with advocacy groups has become common in confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last year, Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal, Alice Fisher of Latham & Watkins and Jeffrey Lamken of MoloLamken were among those testifying in favor of nominee Neil Gorsuch.
The American Bar Association, with more than 400,000 members, was also represented Friday as two lawyers from its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary reported the committee’s unanimous “well qualified” ranking of Kavanaugh, the highest rating the committee gives. Republican senators who have criticized the ABA’s role in rating nominees in the past effusively thanked the committee.
As for the other lawyers who testified, Luke McCloud, an associate at Williams & Connolly who clerked for Kavanaugh and then for Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, zeroed in on Kavanaugh’s efforts to recruit and mentor minorities, including himself.
“He regularly speaks to diverse law student associations to encourage their members to apply for clerkships, said McCloud, who is African-American. “The judge also actively mentors the minority students he teaches, helping them become future leaders within the law. Judge Kavanaugh’s commitment to promoting the careers of minority attorneys is also apparent from his own clerk hiring. Of his 48 law clerks, 13 are racial minorities, including five African-Americans.”
Colleen Sinzdak, a former student of Kavanaugh’s at Harvard Law School who is now a senior associate at Hogan Lovells, spoke to Kavanaugh’s treatment of women.
“Far too often in my career, I have felt that I was being treated as female lawyer, rather than just as a lawyer,” said Sinzdak, who was part of Katyal’s Hogan Lovells team that challenged President Donald Trump’s travel ban policy. “But with Judge Kavanaugh, I have never felt that way. In my interactions with him, I know that I am being judged on the merits of what I say, nothing less, and nothing more.”
Paul Clement, another former SG and longtime friend of Kavanaugh, said in prepared remarks: “I am not here testifying today out of friendship. Rather, I am testifying today because of what I have seen in observing Judge Kavanaugh in his over 12 years of service on the federal appellate bench.”
Speaking from the vantage point of someone who has argued before Kavanaugh, Clement also said, “Judge Kavanaugh has judicial temperament in spades. He is respectful of counsel in both his demeanor and in his level of preparation and engagement. Nothing is more discouraging to litigants and attorneys than a cold or underprepared bench. There is no fear of that with Judge Kavanaugh.”
Maureen Mahoney, retired partner at Latham and a former deputy solicitor general, likened Kavanaugh to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. in her prepared remarks.
“The chief justice and Judge Kavanaugh also share a civility and evenhandedness on the bench that reflects their genuine effort to consider all sides of an argument thoroughly before reaching any conclusions. I have had the pleasure of arguing before both men,” she stated.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, R- Connecticut, asked Olson, as he asked Kavanaugh himself, whether Trump’s criticisms of the federal judiciary, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the last two years should be condemned. Kavanaugh declined to do so directly, but Olson pinch hit for him, though he did not mention Trump directly.
“I deplore statements criticizing the integrity, our intelligence of members of judiciary across the board,” Olson said. “As far as Justice Ginsburg is concerned, I have to say that she is someone that I have the hugest respect for. She is a hero in this country, a warrior. She’s stood for many, many great things. She argued cases in the Supreme Court that broke ground on behalf of women and on behalf all of us. And I respect her.”