21 Sep, 2018FORTUNE.COM
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006. During at least part of that tenure, it was “no accident” that President Donald Trump’s pick for the nation’s highest court had female law clerks who “looked like models,” according to reports from HuffPost and The Guardian.
Female law students hoping to clerk for Kavanaugh were also told he preferred clerks with a “certain look,” and that candidates should dress “model-like” in order to make a good impression on the influential federal judge.
The advice came from well-known Yale Law School professors (and married couple) Jed Rubenfeld and Amy Chua, who is known for her controversial parenting bestseller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Her comments to students followed a warning about another federal judge, Alex Kozinski, who resigned last year following sexual harassment allegations.
Yale officials said these reports were the first they’d heard of Chua coaching Kavanaugh’s possible clerks to “look like models,” that the university takes complaints of faculty misconduct seriously, and that they would investigate.
Chua has reportedly canceled her classes at Yale this semester and been hospitalized for an undisclosed illness. Rubenfeld is currently the subject of an internal investigation at Yale, reportedly with regard to his own conduct with female law clerks. “I do not know what I am alleged to have said or done. I was further advised that the allegations were not of the kind that would jeopardize my position as a long-tenured member of the faculty,” he wrote in a statement to The Guardian. The couple have also reportedly hired a well-known crisis communications expert.
In the reports by HuffPost and The Guardian, there are no accusations of harassment or assault by Kavanaugh. Rather, they detail what seemed to be a pattern of advice the former students found troubling.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has become increasingly controversial since Stanford University professor Christine Blasey Ford has come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both teenagers. Since coming forward, Ford has received death threats and been forced into hiding.
Both Kavanaugh and Ford have said they are willing to testify before Congress, though Ford requires some undisclosed conditions be met in order to do so. On Wednesday, President Trump defended Kavanaugh but said he wanted to hear from Ford on the matter as well.