Sarah Pitlyk, Rebecca Taibleson: Brett Kavanaugh is a man of rock-solid character and integrity

As the Supreme Court confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh nears its end, last-minute efforts to block a confirmation vote on his nomination in the Senate have veered from mischaracterizations of his judicial record into direct character assassination.

We know Judge Kavanaugh well, having worked closely with him as his law clerks. His character and integrity are unassailable. He is a champion for women’s equality. And we are confident he will survive this last-ditch effort to block his path to the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement saying she had “received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court” and that she had “referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

The unnamed individual herself, however, had “declined to come forward or press the matter further,” Feinstein said in her statement.

We know Judge Kavanaugh well, having worked closely with him as his law clerks. His character and integrity are unassailable. He is a champion for women’s equality. And we are confident he will survive this last-ditch effort to block his path to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, news organizations reported that the information Feinstein referred to in her statement concerns an alleged episode of sexual misconduct in the early 1980s between Kavanaugh and a female student when both were in high school.

In response, Kavanaugh said in a statement Friday: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

The accuser is anonymous. According to news reports, Feinstein learned of the allegation in late July but did not deem it sufficiently important or credible to alert the FBI as part of Kavanaugh’s background investigation, or to raise the matter during his confirmation hearing last week.

Instead, Feinstein issued her statement only after Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee ended.

We have known Judge Kavanaugh for a decade. The picture painted by this anonymous allegation simply is not the man we know. Nor is it the man the country has come to know since the announcement of his nomination to the Supreme Court more than two months ago.

The Brett Kavanaugh we know is a man of humility, generosity, and kindness. Since he was nominated to the Supreme Court, people across the country have learned about the man who regularly serves meals to homeless people, tutors underprivileged elementary school children, mentors minority law students applying for judicial clerkships, and coaches his daughters’ basketball teams.

Millions of people who followed Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing last week also saw his endless patience and respect for others on display.

Many of Kavanaugh’s most prominent and vocal supporters have been women. Self-proclaimed “liberal Democrat and feminist” Lisa Blatt, for example, introduced Kavanaugh at his hearings.

In an op-ed for Politico, Blatt wrote of her friendship with Judge Kavanaugh, describing him as “a great listener, and one of the warmest, friendliest and kindest individuals I know.”

In her own introduction of Kavanaugh, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified that he is “a very good human being.”

Kavanaugh’s female former law clerks, ourselves included, wrote a letter stating that he “has been one of the strongest advocates in the federal judiciary for women lawyers.”

We explained that Kavanaugh has achieved “rare gender parity” in his law clerk hiring and has provided “enthusiastic encouragement and unwavering support” to his women law clerks throughout our careers.

As a result, we wrote that the legal profession is “fairer and more equal because of Judge Kavanaugh.”

Most recently, 65 women who have known Judge Kavanaugh since he was in high school signed a letter attesting that he has always “behaved honorably and treated women with respect” and has “stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity.” Those traits, they explained, have been consistent over decades.

And then there are all of Judge Kavanaugh’s law clerks from his 12 years on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – women and men alike.

Every single clerk whose employment permitted it signed a letter in support of Kavanaugh, describing what a privilege it was to be mentored “by a person of his strength of character, generosity of spirit, intellectual capacity, and unwavering care for his family, friends, colleagues.”

We wrote that Kavanaugh “is unfailingly warm and gracious with his colleagues no matter how strongly they disagree about a case.” We said he is “well-liked and respected by judges and lawyers across the ideological spectrum.” We explained that Kavanaugh is “grounded and kind.” That is the Judge Kavanaugh we know.

We live in an era of marked political divisiveness, and we have seen those divisions shape the course of Kavanaugh’s nomination. After enduring nearly 33 hours of his confirmation hearing last week, Kavanaugh answered an unprecedented 1,278 written questions for the record.

The judge demonstrated a breadth of legal knowledge and an unflappable judicial temperament that, in another time, would have won him the votes of the vast majority of senators.

Speaking at George Washington University Law School this week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg commented on the increased politicization of the Supreme Court confirmation process since her confirmation hearing 25 years ago.

Describing the era in which she was nominated, Ginsburg said: “The way it was, was right. The way it is, is wrong … I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back to the way it was.”

Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most honorable men we have had the privilege to know. Now, on the basis of a single, unsubstantiated, anonymous allegation about an alleged incident in high school – some 35 years ago – opponents of his nomination are trying to tarnish the character of a man we and so many other people admire and respect.

Like Justice Ginsburg, we wish we could return to a world in which this wasn’t the way the game was played.

Rebecca Taibleson is an attorney in Milwaukee, Wisc. She was a law clerk for Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2010-2011.