Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Yale Law Prof Amy Chua Hails Kavanaugh as ‘Extraordinary’ Mentor for Women

In this powerful op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Yale law professor Amy Chua celebrates Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s “extraordinary mentorship” of young women lawyers.

More than half of Kavanaugh’s law clerks have been women, many of them from Yale. Chua, having served on Yale’s clerkship committee, helped place them with Kavanaugh and inquired of them about their clerkship experiences. She writes:

They cited his legendary work ethic (“He expected us to work really hard, but there was always one person working harder than us—the Judge”), his commitment to excellence (“he wants every opinion that comes out of his chambers to be perfect; it is not uncommon to go through 30-50 drafts”), his humility (“He can take a great joke just as easily as he can land one”), and his decency (“I’ve never seen him be rude to anyone in the building”).

To a person, they described his extraordinary mentorship. “When I accepted his offer to clerk,” one woman wrote, “I had no idea I was signing up for a lifelong mentor who feels an enduring sense of responsibility for each of his clerks.” Another said: “I can’t imagine making a career decision without his advice.” And another: “He’s been an incredible mentor to me despite the fact that I’m a left-of-center woman. He always takes into account my goals rather than giving generic advice.”

These days the press is full of stories about powerful men exploiting or abusing female employees. That makes it even more striking to hear Judge Kavanaugh’s female clerks speak of his decency and his role as a fierce champion of their careers.

Chua’s own daughter was set to begin a clerkship with him next month:

If the judge is confirmed, my daughter will probably be looking for a different clerkship. But for my own daughter, there is no judge I would trust more than Brett Kavanaugh to be, in one former clerk’s words, “a teacher, advocate, and friend.”

Ed Whelan — Ed Whelan is a leading commentator on nominations to the Supreme Court and the lower courts and on issues of constitutional law.

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