GOOD

Brett Kavanaugh hiring an all-female staff raises some troubling questions.

What should we make of this?

Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

In the Supreme Court, women are getting more opportunities than ever before and some of those opportunities are coming from where you’d least expect it.


When Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, he said that he’d hire all female law clerks. And now that he’s officially sworn in – plot twist – he actually did it. There are now four female law clerks on his staff - and we don’t mean that in a gross way.

Not only does Kavanaugh have only female law clerks, he actually made history with his hire. There are 36 Supreme Court law clerks each term, and for the first time in history, over half of those law clerks will be women. Additionally, no other Supreme Court Justice has ever hired four female law clerks. We’re just surprised as anyone that the first person to do it was Brett Kavanaugh of all people.

The fact that Kavanaugh actually did what he said he was going to do was lauded by Ruth Bader Ginsberg. “Justice Kavanaugh made history by bringing on board an all-female law clerk crew. Thanks to his selections, the Court has this Term, for the first time ever, more women than men serving as law clerks,” The Notorious RBG said.

However, Ginsberg acknowledged that even though it’s great women are getting more opportunities to clerk than ever, there is still more work to do. “Women did not fare nearly as well as advocates. Only about 21% of the attorneys presenting oral argument this Term were female; of the thirty-four attorneys who appeared more than once, only six were women,” Ginsberg said. Additionally, a recent study found that twice as many men became clerks as women between 2005 and 2017.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

We have so many mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s great that women are being given a historic amount of opportunities. The women who clerk for Kavanaugh will have an influence on the court during their clerkship, and will likely graduate into great careers. They could even potentially end up on the Supreme Court themselves.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to forget Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation hearings and the allegations of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford. There are also questions about the ethics involved in some of Kavanaugh’s clerk selections.

The whole thing just makes our head hurt. It’s like eating a bruised apple. It’s great -- if you cut around the bad parts.

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