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Brett Kavanaugh has hired his first class of clerks, and, as he promised all four are women.

This raises a question that I’d like to present for general discussion: What sorts of ethical obligations should people who aren’t yet active collaborators with the current regime of treason in defense of white supremacy impose on themselves, in regard to refusing to give any aid to that regime, even at the cost of professional advancement?

In this particular context, if someone has typical SCOTUS clerk credentials, should he or she refuse to interview with Kavanaugh? With Gorsuch? With Thomas? With Alito and Roberts?  SCOTUS clerkships are of course insanely competitive, so limiting yourself to the 16 slots available to the other justices is clearly a kind of personal sacrifice, although of the most extreme first world variety.

(In the case of Kavanaugh’s first batch of clerks, this question appears to be largely hypothetical, as based on their resumes at least three of the four appear to be enthusiastic collaborators with the regime).

And of course this question applies to a vast array of positions beyond being a Supreme Court clerk.  In 2018, what level of active collaboration with the Trump administration is acceptable? Here I think it’s crucial to make distinctions between career civil servants, who have inherited this nightmare from which we are trying to awake, and people who apply for positions like clerkships with its judicial avatars.

THE other week, in the Spectator, Mr Harold Nicolson was consoling himself as best be could for having reached the age of sixty. As he perceived, the only positive satisfaction in growing older is that after a certain point you can begin boasting of having seen things that no one will ever have the chance to see again. It set me wondering what boasts I could make myself, at forty-four, or nearly. Mr Nicolson had seen the Czar, surrounded by his bodyguard of enormous Cossacks, blessing the Neva. I never saw that, but I did see Marie Lloyd, already almost a legendary figure, and I saw Little Tich—who, I think, did not die till about 1928, but who must have retired at about the same time as Marie Lloyd—and I have seen a whole string of crowned heads and other celebrities from Edward VII onwards. But on only two occasions did I feel, at the time, that I was seeing something significant, and on one of these occasions it was the circumstances and not the person concerned that made me feel this.

One of these celebrities was Pétain. It was at Foch’s funeral in 1929. Pétain’s personal prestige in France was very great. He was honoured as the defender of Verdun, and the phrase ‘They shall not pass’ was popularly supposed to have been coined by him. He was given a place to himself in the procession, with a gap of several yards in front of and behind him. As he stalked past—a tall, lean, very erect figure, though he must have been seventy years old or thereabouts, with great sweeping white moustaches like the wings of a gull—a whisper of Voilà Pétain went rippling through the vast crowd. His appearance impressed me so much that I dimly felt, in spite of his considerable age, that he ought still have some kind of distinguished future ahead of him.

George Orwell, 24 January 1947

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