Re­port: Women groomed for judge

Two pro­fes­sors are tar­get of crit­i­cism

Greenwich Time - - FRONT PAGE - By Ed Stan­nard

A new con­tro­versy re­lated to Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh rose up at Yale Law School in New Haven on Fri­day, with signs in the school’s court­yard call­ing the school a “model of com­plic­ity” in the ac­cu­sa­tions that Ka­vanaugh may have as­saulted a woman when they were in high school.

A story in The Guardian news­pa­per of Lon­don on Thurs­day claimed that law pro­fes­sors Amy Chua and Jed Ruben­feld, who are mar­ried, would ad­vise fe­male stu­dents ap­ply­ing for clerk­ships with Ka­vanaugh to have a “cer­tain look” dur­ing their in­ter­views.

It went on to say that Chua would tell stu­dents it was “‘not an ac­ci­dent’ that Ka­vanaugh’s fe­male law clerks all ‘looked like mod­els.’ ”

Ka­vanaugh, 53, a fed­eral ap­peals judge for the Dis­trict of Columbia Cir­cuit, grad­u­ated from Yale in 1987 and re­ceived his Yale law de­gree in 1990. He has been ac­cused of

sex­u­ally as­sault­ing Chris­tine Blasey Ford, now a pro­fes­sor at Palo Alto Uni­ver­sity, when they were in high school.

A sign posted next to Ka­vanaugh’s portrait in the law school says, “We be­lieve Dr. Chris­tine Blasey Ford #MeToo.” An­other quotes pro­fes­sor Ahkil Reed Amar as say­ing that nom­i­nat­ing Ka­vanaugh “is the one most sane, most sober, most classy thing that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has done.”

The Guardian also claimed that Ruben­feld is “the sub­ject of an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Yale … fo­cused on Ruben­feld’s con­duct, par­tic­u­larly with fe­male law stu­dents.”

The news­pa­per quotes a state­ment from Ruben­feld say­ing he was told he was the sub­ject of an “in­for­mal re­view” but that he was not told specifics. “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.” That quote is also posted in the Yale Law School court­yard.

While law school spokes­woman Janet Con­roy said she could not con­firm or deny the ex­is­tence of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Dean Heather Gerken is­sued a state­ment ad­dress­ing the re­ports.

“The al­le­ga­tions be­ing re­ported are of enor­mous con­cern to me and to the School,” Gerken wrote. “While we can­not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual com­plaints or in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the Law School and the Uni­ver­sity thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate all com­plaints re­gard­ing vi­o­la­tions of Uni­ver­sity rules and take no op­tions off the ta­ble. Nei­ther the Law School nor the Uni­ver­sity pre­judges the out­comes of in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Any state­ments to the con­trary are in­ac­cu­rate.”

Gerken added, “Fac­ulty mis­con­duct has no place at Yale Law School. You have my word that we will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion on any com­plaints.”

“I think peo­ple are un­be­liev­ably up­set” about the al­leged in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said a sec­ond-year law stu­dent who would not give her name. “I think they’re se­ri­ous about in­ves­ti­gat­ing, but they haven’t done any­thing to show stu­dents that they’re se­ri­ous about in­ves­ti­gat­ing.”

Chua, who gained na­tional no­to­ri­ety in 2011 with her book, “Bat­tle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” ad­vo­cat­ing a su­per-strict par­ent­ing style, fell ill shortly af­ter the fall se­mes­ter be­gan and was re­port­edly hos­pi­tal­ized. She has been known as a men­tor for po­ten­tial Ka­vanaugh law clerks and one of her two daugh­ters is set to clerk for him if he is not con­firmed as a Supreme Court jus­tice.

Chua is­sued a state­ment dis­put­ing that Ka­vanaugh seeks at­trac­tive women as law clerks. “For the more than ten years I’ve known him, Judge Ka­vanaugh’s first and only lit­mus test in hir­ing has been ex­cel­lence,” she wrote. “He hires only the most qual­i­fied clerks, and they have been di­verse as well as ex­cep­tion­ally tal­ented and ca­pa­ble. There is good rea­son so many of them have gone on to Supreme Court clerk­ships; he only hires those who are ex­traor­di­nar­ily qual­i­fied.”

But the decades-old sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions and the Guardian’s story have mo­bi­lized stu­dents, who re­port­edly plan a sit-in on Mon­day un­less classes are can­celed so they can go to Wash­ing­ton to protest at Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings. Dana Bol­ger, a thirdyear law stu­dent, said in a Face­book mes­sage that “a num­ber of pro­fes­sors have can­celled class, in re­sponse to stu­dents’ re­quests.”

“Ev­ery­body’s talk­ing about it in the hall­ways and peo­ple are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate and are mo­bi­liz­ing and hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about how to pro­ceed,” said a first-year stu­dent. “When there’s bias in who gets these clerk­ships, that means bias in who’s go­ing to get on the Supreme Court 20 years from now,” they said. “The things that are talked about were open se­crets and are things that stu­dents hear even be­fore they start” at the law school.

Lo­ri­anne Updike Toler, a fel­low at the law school, said she thought the crit­i­cism of Chua and Ruben­feld was “silly.” “There’s no al­le­ga­tions here. You’re talk­ing about be­ing dressed fem­i­ninely or as­sertively. It’s un­clear what they’re charg­ing. … Ka­vanaugh hires and pro­motes and for­wards the ca­reers of women. He takes on di­verse women.”

She said that if Ford’s ac­cu­sa­tions are proven true, it’s a se­ri­ous is­sue, but that she would be more con­cerned if there were more re­cent in­stances of mis­con­duct by Ka­vanaugh. “They’re re­ally strug­gling to find some­thing and the best they can come up with is he wants some­one to dress in suits,” she said. “There’s no al­le­ga­tions that he is ac­tu­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate.”

On Fri­day, 49 Yale Law School fac­ulty is­sued an open let­ter to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, say­ing they are “con­cerned about a rush to judg­ment that threat­ens both the in­tegrity of the process and the public’s con­fi­dence in the Court.”

“Al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault re­quire a neu­tral factfinder and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that can as­cer­tain facts fairly,” the let­ter states. “Those at the FBI or oth­ers tasked with such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion must have ad­e­quate time to in­ves­ti­gate facts. … In sub­se­quent hear­ings, all of those who tes­tify, and par­tic­u­larly women tes­ti­fy­ing about sex­ual as­sault, must be treated with re­spect.”

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