In a true *chef’s kiss* moment, Amy “Tiger Mom” Chua’s daughter will apparently be clerking for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh this fall—one year after Chua wrote a glowing recommendation of the judge in the Wall Street Journal.
Chua’s daughter, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, had previously accepted a clerkship with Kavanaugh during his tenure as a U.S. Circuit judge, but that job was cut short when, a month before she was set to start, President Donald Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court. Too bad!
Except: Three days after Trump nominated Kavanaugh, Chua placed an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where she praised the judge as, presciently enough, “a mentor to women”:
In the past decade, I have helped place 10 Yale Law School students with Judge Kavanaugh, eight of them women. I recently emailed them to ask about their clerkship experiences. They all responded almost instantaneously. They cited his legendary work ethic (“He expected us to work really hard, but there was always one person working harder than us—the Judge”), his commitment to excellence (“he wants every opinion that comes out of his chambers to be perfect; it is not uncommon to go through 30-50 drafts”), his humility (“He can take a great joke just as easily as he can land one”), and his decency (“I’ve never seen him be rude to anyone in the building”).
To a person, they described his extraordinary mentorship. “When I accepted his offer to clerk,” one woman wrote, “I had no idea I was signing up for a lifelong mentor who feels an enduring sense of responsibility for each of his clerks.” Another said: “I can’t imagine making a career decision without his advice.” And another: “He’s been an incredible mentor to me despite the fact that I’m a left-of-center woman. He always takes into account my goals rather than giving generic advice.”
These days the press is full of stories about powerful men exploiting or abusing female employees. That makes it even more striking to hear Judge Kavanaugh’s female clerks speak of his decency and his role as a fierce champion of their careers.
She concluded her editorial by saying “there is no judge I would trust more than Brett Kavanaugh” for her daughter to clerk for. Indeed. We all know what came next, unfortunately.
At the time the op-ed was published, I suppose you could have credibly read the piece as character witness in the lead-up to a confirmation hearing, but that is...a far more generous read of the situation than is warranted, or even realistic. Amy Chua’s true motivations here are incidental: whether she actually meant to or not—given all we’ve seen and know about how the powerful pull each other’s levers to maintain their power—the effect remains the same. If you’re someone of Chua’s stature, you don’t publish an editorial in a major newspaper thinking you won’t get anything out of it; dynastic politics working in full force would not have it otherwise.