Even as allegations of sexual misconduct have roiled Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination, over a dozen appellate and Supreme Court attorneys who publicly supported him in an August letter have stuck by the nominee.
With the U.S. Senate expected to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in the coming days, the National Law Journal reached out to around 40 lawyers this week, all of whom signed a letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee in late August.
Seventeen of the 41 lawyers who signed the letter said they continued to support Kavanaugh, even after the allegations against him surfaced. Two other prominent signatories—Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partners Ted Olson and Helgi Walker—have publicly defended Kavanaugh. Twenty lawyers did not return requests for comment, and two declined to comment.
“I remain a strong supporter of Judge Kavanaugh and his nomination. … I have always known Judge Kavanaugh to be a person of integrity, fair-mindedness and kindness,” Allyson Ho, a partner in Gibson Dunn’s Dallas office, said. Asked about the allegations, Ho added: “I certainly believe that women should be heard, that accusers should be heard and again I think others have said that and I would just reiterate my support for that.”
Kirkland & Ellis lawyer Paul Clement, who testified in favor of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, said Thursday that his position hasn’t changed. Erin Murphy, a fellow Kirkland partner who signed the August letter, also indicated that her support has not wavered.
The more than 20 lawyers who did not return a request for comment include Arnold & Porter’s Lisa Blatt, who formally introduced Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. The hearing took place before the allegations against Kavanaugh arose, but her testimony and an opinion column, where she described herself as a “liberal feminist lawyer” who backed Kavanaugh, have drawn consternation from liberal legal crowds.
Blatt topped the signatures on the August letter praising Kavanaugh as “an outstanding jurist.”
“Based on our experience with Judge Kavanaugh and his work over 12 years of distinguished judicial service, we are confident that he possesses the character, temperament and intellect that will make him an asset to our Nation’s highest Court,” the letter read.
A final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination could take place this weekend, with senators reviewing on Thursday an FBI file on its reopened background investigation of Kavanaugh. In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago, asserted that the inquiry had “failed” to include interviews with Ford, and that the FBI declined to interview other witnesses.
As the sexual misconduct allegations have continued to rock Kavanaugh’s nomination, a number of groups have spilled out in the last week to voice their opposition to his confirmation. As of Thursday afternoon, a group of over 1,700 law professors had signed onto a letter urging against his confirmation, citing “a lack of judicial temperament” during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.
Nonetheless, Kavanaugh has found ample support in Washington’s legal community, with a number of litigators who signed the late August letter sticking by the nominee. Some lawyers appeared to accept Kavanaugh’s denial of the allegations.
Miguel Estrada, another Gibson Dunn partner, said he still supports Kavanaugh’s nomination and stands by the letter.
“I used to be a federal prosecutor. I’m used to the evidence-based world. The accusations here range from the ‘implausible and uncorroborated’ however sincerely they may be believed by the accuser, to the preposterously outlandish,” Estrada said. “Quite apart from that, I have known Judge Kavanaugh for 26 years, and I know him incapable of the things he is being accused of. I fully believe his emphatic denial.”
Three other Gibson Dunn partners—in addition to Estrada, Walker, Olson, and Ho—voiced their support for Kavanaugh’s nomination: Matthew McGill, Mark Perry and Amir Tayrani.
Richard Seamon, a professor at the University of Idaho’s law school and a former colleague of Kavanaugh’s in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, said: “I always found him to be an upright, honest person and so I consider him to be highly credible. I have not seen or heard anything that alters that judgment.”
Latham & Watkins’ Maureen Mahoney who testified in support of Kavanaugh said she remains “fully supportive of his nomination.” Roman Martinez, a colleague of Mahoney’s and a former Kavanaugh clerk who signed a separate letter of support earlier this summer, also indicated there was “no change” to his support.
The other attorneys who told the National Law Journal this week that they continue to back Kavanaugh include: Consovoy McCarthy Park partners Jeffrey Harris, Will Consovoy and Tom McCarthy; Jones Day’s Michael Carvin; Goodwin Procter’s William Jay; Paul Larkin of the Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center; and Quinn Emanuel’s Chris Landau.