WASHINGTON — Four former clerks of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said fears that he would help overturn Roe v. Wade or promote pro-business decisions don’t understand his character.
Rebecca Taibleson, who clerked for Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010 and2011, said Kavanaugh’s keeps an open mind on intellectual disagreements and supports female empowerment. He would be “a breath of fresh air” on the high court, she said.
Taibleson said when she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2012, 26 out of 39 clerks at the Supreme Court were men, but 25 out of 48 clerks who have worked for Kavanagh over the years have been women. Of those 48 clerks, 34 sent a letter supporting Kavanagh’s confirmed to the Senate judiciary Committee in July.
Speaking at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation a month after President Donald Trump nominated Kavanagh to file the vacancy of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the four clerks – three women and a man – called on the Senate to confirm Kavanagh.
Sarah Pitlyk, now a special counsel for a nonprofit law firm called the Thomas More Society, said groups who portray Kavanagh as a hard-line conservative are wrong and that he doesn’t base rulings on political beliefs. “Any special interest group that is looking at the judge and trying to evaluate what he is going to do for them when he is on the bench is just looking at the question the wrong way,” she said.
The former clerks were elusive about the questions regarding Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy or abortion rights, but all said Kavanaugh would be unlikely to reverse landmark precedents, suggesting that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case granting a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, would not change.
Porter Wilkinson, a former clerk and current chief of staff at the Smithsonian, said in an interview that she disagreed with AFSCME President Lee Saunders’ earlier statement that Kavanaugh’s record is “pro-corporate agenda.”
Wilkinson said there might be specific decisions union leaders didn’t like, but “he is going to be open-minded, and apply to the law faithfully.”