“You should know that Judge Kavanaugh hires women with a certain look.”
That’s what Yale law professor Jed Rubenfeld reportedly told a law student who was looking into a clerking position with Brett Kavanaugh, a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and now President Donald Trump‘s pick to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Rubenfeld and his wife, fellow law professor and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother author Amy Chua, reportedly dispensed advice like this to numerous students at Yale Law School as the prospect of working with the judge came up, according to reports citing anonymous sources in HuffPost and The Guardian.
It’s the latest controversy to ensnare Kavanaugh ahead of his possible confirmation, on top of an allegation of sexual assault that dates to when he was in high school.
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HuffPost reported Thursday on a Yale law student who met with Rubenfeld en route to interview for a clerkship with Kavanaugh.
In that meeting, Rubenfeld reportedly warned her about two judges: Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who had a reputation for sexually harassing clerks, and Kavanaugh.
He said Kavanaugh was known for hiring women with a “certain look,” but he also said he didn’t hear anything else about him that would give him pause, the now-former student told the website.
She didn’t ask what “look” Rubenfeld was talking about.
“It was very clear to me that he was talking about physical appearance, because it was phrased as a warning — and because it came after the warning about Judge Kozinski,” she told HuffPost.
Chua and Rubenfeld were instrumental in helping law students to find clerkships, The Guardian reported.
In a commentary for The Wall Street Journal, Chua said she played a role in placing 10 students with Kavanaugh.
Eight of them were women, and one of them was her own daughter.
Part of that role involved advising students on their looks, according to the newspaper.
The Guardian also reported on a meeting between Rubenfeld and a student, in which he talked about a “certain look.”
The newspaper reported that Chua later met with this same student, advising her to dress in an “outgoing” fashion before she interviewed with Kavanaugh, and to send her pictures of herself so she could offer further tips.
The student declined to do this.
HuffPost reported on a similar interaction between Chua and a law student.
One source speaking to the Guardian also said Chua met with a group of students at a bar last year, where she reportedly said it was “no accident” that the judge’s clerks “looked like models.”
No one speaking to the Guardian alleged that Kavanaugh’s female clerks were hired because of their looks.
HuffPost reported that the student who was advised to dress “outgoing” said she wasn’t sure whether Chua’s recommendation came because it was what Kavanaugh preferred, or whether it was Chua’s own fashion advice, or her own impression of what the judge would want.
She also wasn’t certain that Chua was giving other people the same advice.
Sources told the Guardian that Chua and Rubenfeld were not known to provide this kind of advice when it came to other judges.
In a statement to both HuffPost and the Guardian, Chua, who is in hospital with what was called a “serious illness,” said Kavanaugh’s “first and only litmus test in hiring has been excellence.
“He hires only the most qualified clerks, and they have been diverse as well as exceptionally talented and capable.”
For its part, Yale Law School told the Guardian that its inquiries were the “first we have heard claims that Professor Chua coached students to look ‘like models.’ We will look into these claims promptly,” but also taking into account her stay in hospital.
“I can assure you that we take allegations of faculty misconduct very seriously,” a statement said.
Heather Gerken, the dean of Yale Law School, issued a letter saying that “the allegations being reported are of enormous concern to me and to the school,” NBC News reported.
“I strongly encourage any members of our community who have been affected by misconduct to take advantage of Yale University’s resources for reporting incidents and receiving support,” she wrote.
“The law school has a responsibility to provide a safe environment in which all of our students can live and learn in a community of mutual respect, free of harassment of any kind.”
The Guardian also reported that Rubenfeld is being investigated internally at Yale Law School, in a probe that focuses on his interactions with female students.
Students have also complained to Yale about Chua’s role in the clerkship hiring process.
Rubenfeld told the Guardian that Yale University said it would carry out an “‘informal review” of certain allegations, “but that to preserve anonymity, I was not entitled to know any specifics. As a result, 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.”
Yale Law School didn’t confirm or deny that an investigation was happening.
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