The Kavanaugh Effect: Most Diverse Supreme Court Staff in History

By Quinn, Melissa | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, October 9, 2018 | Go to article overview

The Kavanaugh Effect: Most Diverse Supreme Court Staff in History


Quinn, Melissa, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


On his first day at work, Brett Kavanaugh has ensured that the elite group of law clerks in the Supreme Court is the most diverse in its history.

Kavanaugh's four new clerks are all women. Additionally, of the six other clerks who worked for him as an appeals court judge and are now on the staffs of other Supreme Court justices, four more are women.

In terms of racial diversity, out of the three black clerks at the Supreme Court, one works for Kavanaugh and another previously worked for him.

With Kavanaugh's arrival, there are 21 women among the 41 clerks — the first time there has been a majority of women. Kavanaugh's supporters contend that the fact that eight of those 21 have clerked for him at one time or another demonstrates his commitment to women's rights.

Conservatives have already drawn attention to Kavanaugh's staff diversity compared to that of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most liberal member of the court. She has had one black clerk out of more than 100 since joining the court in 1993.

Kavanaugh will make his Supreme Court debut Tuesday, taking his seat after one of the most bruising and political battles for an open seat in the court's history.

He set to work quickly after the Senate confirmed his nomination in a 50-48 vote, hiring Kim Jackson — who is black — Shannon Grammel, Megan Lacy, and Sara Nommensen as his clerks. According to Above the Law, the four were provisionally hired before three women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

"Women still face many barriers in the American workplace, and all of us have a responsibility to address that problem," Kavanaugh said Monday night during a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House.

During his Senate testimony, Kavanaugh told how he was shocked when he read a New York Times article in 2006 that reported that just seven out of 37 Supreme Court clerks were women.

Kavanaugh will head to One First Street to participate in his first oral argument as a Supreme Court justice, with the high court scheduled to hear four cases across a two-day span.

On Tuesday, Kavanaugh and his fellow justices will hear two cases involving a federal law that requires repeat offenders to receive more lengthy sentences.

On Wednesday, the court will consider one case involving the Department of Homeland Security’s power to detain illegal immigrants who have committed other crimes and were already detained for those crimes, and a second involving a U.S. Navy sailor who was diagnosed with lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Kavanaugh’s first day on the bench comes after a heated fight over his nomination, which kicked off the night President Trump announced the federal judge as his pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court and was roiled after Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, a claim Kavanaugh categorically denied.

The ensuing battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination has cast a political cloud over the Supreme Court. But inside the courtroom, it may be business as usual when the eight justices and their newest colleague convene Tuesday morning.

“I think [Tuesday] is likely to be a little anticlimactic in a lot of ways,” Carolyn Shapiro, co-director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, said. …

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