A Bipartisan Group Of The Best Supreme Court Lawyers Is Vouching For Brett Kavanaugh

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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A bipartisan coalition of elite Supreme Court lawyers submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Many regular Supreme Court advocates are featured among the signers, with at least one notable exception.

“Based on our experience with Judge Kavanaugh and his work over 12 years of distinguished judicial service, we are confident that he possesses the character, temperament and intellect that will make him an asset to our nation’s highest court,” the letter reads.

Some commentators have criticized letter-writing of this sort. Writing in Slate, Jordan Weissmann argued the practice “reeks of the amoral Ivy League clubbiness that still defines the upper reaches of the legal world and at best is simply naive.” Others have suggested it gives the appearance of favor-currying, to the extent that the letter’s signers will likely argue before a hypothetical Justice Kavanaugh in the future. (RELATED: This New Memo Shows That Kavanaugh Pulled No Punches On Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky Testimony)

The lead signatory on the letter is Lisa Blatt, a self-professed progressive feminist who leads the Supreme Court practice at Arnold & Porter. Blatt, who has appeared before the high court on 35 occasions, wrote a column in Politico Magazine on Aug. 2 arguing for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, styling him “the most qualified conservative for the job.”

Other liberals who have expressed support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation include Yale Law School professor Akhil Amar, widely considered a leading authority on constitutional matters.

While Blatt is lead signer, Republicans are thick among the other signatories, who include Bush administration solicitors general Ted Olson, Paul Clement and Gregory Garre. Miguel Estrada, a Bush nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Paul Larkin, a seasoned Supreme Court practitioner now affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, also signed the letter.

Notably absent from the list is Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells, who served as acting solicitor general during the Obama administration. Katyal regularly litigates around high-profile liberal causes. He last appeared in the Supreme Court on April 25 to argue against the legality of President Donald Trump’s travel sanctions. (RELATED: Democrats Move To Delay Kavanaugh Hearings Because Of The Cohen Plea)

Though he was Justice Neil Gorsuch’s most prominent liberal partisan — he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times supporting his confirmation just hours after it was announced and testified on his behalf before the judiciary committee — Katyal appears to be keeping a lower profile on the Kavanaugh confirmation. He did, however, speak highly of Kavanaugh at a Heritage Foundation panel on July 10.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings before the judiciary committee will begin on Sept. 4.

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