Leading Indian-American attorneys, including one who has fought against President Trump’s attempt to stop immigrants from certain countries, have praised his choice of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. A couple of these Indian-American attorneys are liberals, others have clerked for Kavanaugh, and yet others have been independent voices. They voiced their views in the midst of strong opposition from mainstream liberals and the Democratic Party which is gearing up to fight this latest nomination in the U.S. Senate on grounds he would fruther skew the conservative majority in the highest court and may help overturn laws that protect women’s rights and civil rights.
At a July 10 panel discussion hosted by Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, Neak Katyal praised Kavanaugh profusely even as liberals around the country have criticized the choice on grounds that if cleared by the Senate, the new appointee threatened to undo pro-choice laws that make abortion legal.
“I almost feel bad for him that he’s being nominated for the seat that is kind of the swing seat, so for folks who care about abortion, affirmative action, or marriage equality, and if there’s going to be a fight here that maybe were this a different seat you wouldn’t have necessarily seen it in quite the same way…,” said Katyal, according to a news report on townhall.com.
“… it’s incredibly hard for anyone who has worked with him, appeared before him, to frankly say a bad word about him, this is an incredibly brilliant, careful person, but someone who will move the court in a conservative direction,” Katyal added. Katyal had earlier praised another Trump appointee, Neil Gorsuch, testifying in Congress during his Senate hearings for confirmation.
On June 12, the White House sent out a press release quoting leading law professors, deans, and those who had served as clerks with Kavanaugh. The list included at least three Indian-American experts.
Yale Law School Professor Akhil Reed Amar is quoted saying, “Judge Kavanaugh commands wide and deep respect among scholars, lawyers, judges, and justices. Good appellate judges faithfully follow the Supreme Court; great ones influence and help steer the Court. Several of Kavanaugh’s biggest ideas have found their way into Supreme Court opinions.”
Noting that he had supported Hillary Clinton for president and was for President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court Judge Merrick Garland, Reed went on to say, “But today, with the exception of the current justices and Judge Garland, it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh.”
Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, wrote a New York Times oped July 9, “A Liberal’s Case for Brett Kavanaugh” in which he called the nomination, “President Trump’s finest hour, his classiest move.”
Amar’s work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the conservative Federalist Society, and he has been cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in more than three dozen cases—tops in his generation, according to the Yale University profile on him. He regularly testifies before Congress at the invitation of both parties, the biography says, adding that in surveys of judicial citations and/or scholarly citations, he ranks among America’s five most-cited mid-career legal scholars.
One of Kavanaugh’s Indian-American law clerks praised him as well. “I considered it a special privilege to train under a man who had such fundamental respect for the law and a complete commitment to getting it right,” Saritha Komatireddy is quoted saying in the White House press release.
Komatireddy is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the National Security and Cybercrime Section in Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office. She taught at Columbia Law School previously, and also served as counsel to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, where she was a member of the chief counsel’s investigative team. Komatireddy got her law degree from Harvard.
Another former Indian-American law clerk Indraneel Sur, said “Since his first day at the D.C. Circuit, Judge Kavanaugh has stood ready to invest whatever amount of energy is necessary to get the reasoning and the result right in every case … Of course, he would bring that same tireless dedication to the rule of law to the Supreme Court where he confirmed.”Sur got his law degree from University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate from Yale University. He is an associate in the New York office of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He served in several senior positions in government in the past. In 2010 and 2011, Sur was a trial attorney at the Justice Department’s Federal Programs Branch of its Civil Division, where he represented the Government in national security cases in Federal District Court. Among other matters, Sur drafted briefs on behalf of the Government in habeas and Bivens cases brought by detainees at the United States Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to the law firm’s website. In 2012 and 2013, he served as an assistant general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget within the Executive Office of President Obama.
Katyal, who is currently with Hogan Lovells, a leading D.C. law firm, in his remarks at the Heritage Foundation, also noted that Kavanaugh made it a point to hire a significant number of women as law clerks, a plus point which he hoped would transfer to the Supreme Court when future trials are heard.
“As some of you saw, Judge Kavanaugh in his remarks yesterday went out of his way to talk about something which I have really noticed in his hiring patterns, which is, he does hire a lot of female clerks,” Katyal is quoted saying in the townhall.com report, adding that in the last term women argued cases only 12 percent of the time, which he believed will start to change.