An unnamed Yale Law School student was advised that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh liked his women clerks to have a “certain look.”
The Huffington Post reports that the student was prepping for judicial clerkships when her professors—Jed Rubenfeld and his wife Amy Chua of Tiger Mom fame—offered this ever so sage advice, which she considered a “yellow flag.”
From the Huffington Post:
Rubenfeld took care to warn her about two judges in particular: First, Alex Kozinski, then a judge on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, was known to sexually harass his clerks, he told her. (Kozinski retired in December amid accusations of harassment.)
The other was Kavanaugh. Though the judge was known to hire female clerks who had a “certain look,” Rubenfeld told her, he emphasized that he had heard nothing else untoward.
“He did not say what the ‘certain look’ was. I did not ask,” the woman said. “It was very clear to me that he was talking about physical appearance, because it was phrased as a warning ― and because it came after the warning about Judge Kozinski.”
The student already knew to steer clear of Kozinski, but decided to interview with Kavanaugh anyway. Enter Chua. Chua is reputed for helping Yalies score prestigious clerkships with federal judges, apparently by any means necessary.
“She advised me to be and dress ‘outgoing,’” the former Yale student said. “She strongly urged me to send her pictures of what I was thinking of wearing so she could evaluate. I did not.”
Chua’s response to the Huffington Post’s request for comment didn’t deny these allegations. “For the more than ten years I’ve known him, Judge Kavanaugh’s first and only litmus test in hiring has been excellence,” said Chua, indicating she’s still Team Kav even after he was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who knew Kavanaugh when they were teens in the ‘80s.
Her statement also echoes a nauseatingly glowing piece she penned in July for The Wall Street Journal titled “Kavanaugh Is a Mentor to Women.”
“In the past decade, I have helped place 10 Yale Law School students with Judge Kavanaugh, eight of them women,” wrote Chua, who then quotes testimonials from said women. They gave rave reviews. Chua’s own daughter began a clerkship with Kavanaugh in August.
“These days the press is full of stories about powerful men exploiting or abusing female employees,” Chua continued. “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.”
Interesting, especially considering The Guardian’s report that Chua offered advice on, “ways they could dress to exude a ‘model-like’ femininity to help them win a post in Kavanaugh’s chambers.
Chua also privately told a group of Yale Law students that it was “not an accident” that all of Kavanaugh’s women clerks “looked like models,” according to a source who only spoke to The Guardian anonymously in fear of ruining their career.
Last year, Chua invited the group of mentees to a bar to discuss “a high profile #MeToo case.” As the students began to discuss whether the movement would hit the judicial sphere, Chua expressed skepticism, noting that she was well aware of the sexual harassment allegations against the aforementioned Kozinski. Then, Kavanaugh came up.
From The Guardian:
The conversation then turned to Kozinski’s protege and good friend Kavanaugh, who one source said was a familiar name even though he had not yet been nominated to the high court. Chua allegedly told the students that it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh’s female clerks “looked like models”. Student reacted with surprise, and quickly pointed out that Chua’s own daughter was due to clerk for Kavanaugh.
A source said that Chua quickly responded, saying that her own daughter would not put up with any inappropriate behaviour.
At least one student source was willing to believe that Chua’s advices wasn’t as sinister as it seems:
“It is possible that they were making observations but not following edicts from him,” said one student who received such instructions. “I have no reason to believe he was saying, ‘Send me the pretty ones’, but rather that he was reporting back and saying, ‘I really like so and so’, and the way he described them led them to form certain conclusions.”
But that’s irrelevant. Whether Kavanaugh was explicit in the type of woman he wants as a clerk or not, Chua and Rubenfeld got a message, of sorts, and dished it out to clerks in a way that clearly came across as innuendo.
In an emailed statement, Yale told The Guardian that this is the first they’ve heard of Chua coaching students to look a certain way. The university promised to look into the claims while maintaining sensitivity to the fact that Chua is currently hospitalized with an serious undisclosed illness.
Regardless of the nitty gritty details or the rave reviews from women under Kavanaugh’s wing, it’s clear Chua was suggesting women show off their “assets” in the hopes of receiving a clerkship with Kavanaugh. It’s yet more proof that women can be complicit in and prop up dangerous systems that allow predatory behavior to become the norm.