By Bruce C.T. Wright
Newly sworn-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has hired four law clerks, and they’re all women. The move was significant for a number of reasons impossible to ignore, including the wave of women around the country who protested his nomination and confirmation over several women accusing him of sexual assault. It also immediately increased the long-suffering diversity among law clerks.
But it was equally as noteworthy because one of the new law clerks was an African-American.
Kim Jackson, who is Black, joined Shannon Grammel, Megan Lacy and Sara Nommensen as Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court law clerks. She is a Yale Law School alumnus just like her boss, according to the Washington Post, which also reported that “two of the three African Americans clerking at the Supreme Court this term previously worked for Kavanaugh.”
The 114th Supreme Court justice was already very familiar with the work of Jackson, who was not only a fellow Yale alum but also had previously worked for Kavanaugh while he sat on the appeals court bench.
Kavanaugh said on Monday that he had already planned to hire the quartet of legal minds before he was officially sworn-in.
“If confirmed, I’ll be the first justice in the history of the Supreme Court to have a group of all-women law clerks,” he said. “That is who I am.”
The hiring likely set out to counter much of what’s been reported about Kavanaugh’s racist tendencies when it comes to his past cases. They have included, but were not limited to: a dissenting ruling in favor of stop-and-frisk policing; writing about racial profiling that “The desire to remedy societal discrimination is not a compelling interest;” and decidedly opposing affirmative action. (Never mind Zina Bash, Kavanaugh’s former law clerk who was caught on camera flashing white supremacist hand signs during his confirmation hearing.)
It will be interesting to see Jackson’s role in Kavanaugh’s rulings that directly affect Black people. One very real possibility could see the now conservative-majority court overturning Obama-era regulations that would adversely affect historically Black colleges and universities.
Employing Jackson, let alone four women, went against a longstanding tradition of little to no diversity among Supreme Court law clerks.
“The research showed that those prestigious one-year clerkships, a golden ticket to a top-tier legal career, were going overwhelmingly to white males,” USA Today reported in January. “Fewer than 2% were African-Americans, 1% were Hispanic, and only a quarter were women.”
Jackson and her fellow Kavanaugh law clerks surely have their work cut out for them, beginning immediately. Kavanaugh was scheduled to hear his first cases as a member of the Supreme Court this week, including one Tuesday dealing with violent crimes and another later in the week centering on immigration detention policies.
This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle.