The daughter of Amy Chua, the Yale law professor who popularized herself as the “Tiger Mom” and spoke out in support of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, has secured a coveted clerkship with the controversial judge.
Several legal news outlets reported Monday that Chua’s oldest daughter, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, would begin the clerkship later this year. The development raised some eyebrows, given that Chua, who helps place judicial clerks from Yale, wrote an op-ed last year defending Kavanaugh against accusations of sexual assault.
The headline that ran with it in The Wall Street Journal? “Kavanaugh Is a Mentor to Women: I Can’t Think of a Better Judge for My Own Daughter’s Clerkship.”
In it, Chua praised Yale Law School alumnus Kavanaugh and said the eight female law students she’s placed in clerkships with him all had positive experiences, offering a counterpoint to the three sexual assault allegations that faced him during his Senate nomination hearings.
“These days the press is full of stories about powerful men exploiting or abusing female employees,” she wrote. “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.”
Her support for Kavanaugh was selfless, she implied, because her daughter had accepted an appellate clerkship with him. If the Senate confirmed him ― which it ultimately did ― her daughter would have to look for a new position.
Critics of Chua quickly pointed out that she did, in fact, have a vested interest in seeing Kavanaugh confirmed to the court because her daughter would likely be first in line for an even higher-ranking clerkship with Kavanaugh if he were ― a maneuver straight out of the “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” playbook on fierce parenting made famous in her 2011 book.
Chua-Rubenfeld denied she would be applying for a Supreme Court clerkship “anytime soon,” though that was less than a year ago.
Accounts from other students seeking clerkship placements by Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, suggest the two saw Kavanaugh less as a “mentor to women” than as a man who liked to employ attractive young women.
One of those students told HuffPost last year that Rubenfeld informed her that Kavanaugh liked to hire female clerks who had a “certain look.”
Students also told The Guardian that Chua privately told a group of law students in 2017 that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and that she would advise them on their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him. Chua denies she said that.