Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld is the daughter of Amy Chua, the Yale professor and author best known for writing a book about her own strict parenting style. Amy Chua, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, wrote about raising her two daughters in the 2011 bestseller “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” Chua described her demanding, Confucianist approach to child-rearing, which was based on accepting nothing less than success from her daughters. She also wrote about how her husband, an American, modified and softened her approach.
Amy Chua also was an outspoken supporter of Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process. Chua, a law professor, wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that Kavanaugh was a great “mentor to women.” Chua wrote the op-ed before Christine Blasey Ford went public with her allegations of sexual assault.
Now Chua’s daughter, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, has landed a position as law clerk to Justice Kavanaugh. Chua-Rubenfeld will start the clerkship this summer and will serve in the position for one year. Here’s what you need to know about Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld:
1. She Went to College on an ROTC Scholarship
Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld had a few reasons for doing ROTC. She told the Harvard Crimson that she wanted to serve her country because she felt grateful that the US army had rescued her grandparents from Japanese occupation. “I know I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I don’t serve my country in some way,” she said. “This sounds so lofty and ridiculous, but I truly feel that if not for the U.S. military, I could not have the life that I have today.”
Chua-Rubenfeld also said that she joined the army because she wanted to prove that she could do something difficult on her own. She didn’t want to be in her parents’ shadow any longer. “At the time I was having major, major angst,” she says. “Am I ever going to earn anything for myself again? Is there ever going to be merit in my life? Will everything be handed to me on a silver platter because of my parents?”
Last year, Chua-Rubenfeld said that she wasn’t planning to apply for a Supreme Court clerkship because she’d be busy fulfilling her military service obligation. However, the Supreme Court has confirmed that she will be starting a clerkship with Justice Kavanaugh this summer. It wasn’t immediately clear how this fit with her military obligation.
2. She Studied Philosophy & Dreamed of Writing a Fantasy Novel
Chua-Rubenfeld earned her BA at Harvard, majoring in philosophy. (She went on to earn a law degree at Harvard Law.) She studied both western philosophy and Sanskrit as an undergraduate, and said she was especially fascinated with moral philosophy. Chua-Rubenfeld also told the Harvard Crimson that she had a “dorky” dream of writing a popular fantasy novel, in the style of “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones.”
She said, “I also have this weird, dorky fantasy that someday I’m going to write a hybrid between ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Game of Thrones’—it’s like more erudite than ‘Game of Thrones’ and more reader-accessible than ‘Lord of the Rings’—but will assess different political and ethical viewpoints in the middle of the story.”
Chua-Rubenfeld said that she struggled, especially during her freshman year, to create a public identity for herself apart from her parents. Because of her mother’s best-selling book, Chua-Rubenfeld became known as the “tiger cub.” She said she experienced “angst” and worried that she would never achieve anything on her own merit. That’s partly why, she said, she decided to join ROTC.
3. She Once Said She Dreamed of Becoming a Military Prosecutor with a Focus on Sexual Assault
In an interview with The New Yorker back in 2014, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld said that she dreamed of becoming a military prosecutor after she finished law school. She said she’d like to focus on sexual assault.
The Supreme Court has confirmed that Chua-Rubenfeld will be clerking for Justice Kavanaugh beginning this summer. She had originally planned to clerk for Kavanaugh before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Her mother, Amy Chua, wrote an op-ed supporting Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation process. Chua called Kavanaugh a great mentor for women; she was widely criticized and accused of trying to help her daughter get a job as his clerk. She wrote the essay before Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her sexual abuse allegations against Kavanaugh.
Amy Chua has been accused of writing the op-ed in favor of Kavanaugh in order to help her daughter have a better chance at a Supreme Court clerkship. She has placed other young law school graduates in clerkships with Kavanaugh in the past, when the now Supreme Court justice was a judge on the appellate court.
4. She Ran a Blog Called ‘New Tiger in Town’
Chua-Rubenfeld started a blog as a senior in high school. The blog, “New Tiger in Town,” is now private and can only be read by people with permission. Chua-Rubenfeld blogged about her family and her upbringing. She described vacations and trips that she took with her sister and her parents. She also shared study tips and lists of recommended books.
The Supreme Court recently confirmed that Chua-Rubenfeld will be clerking for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh for a year. She had previously accepted a clerkship with him when he was a judge on the appellate court. During Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing her mother, a Yale law professor who had placed other clerks with Kavanaugh, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal defending him and calling him a “mentor for women.”
Amy Chua wrote the op-ed supporting Kavanaugh before he was accused of sexual misconduct by Christine Blasey Ford and others. She wrote that he was respectful and that she trusted him completely to work with her daughter, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld. Chua-Rubenfeld is a graduate of Harvard Law School who went through school on an ROTC scholarship.
5. Her Sister, Lulu, Is Also Attending Harvard Law & Says She Wants to Be a Tiger Mom One Day
Lula Chua-Rubenfeld, Sophia’s younger sister, became the center of some controversy after “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom” was released. In the book, Amy Chua described Lulu’s rebellious nature; she also wrote about the tough punishments that she dealt out, like locking 3 year old Lulu out in the cold or threatening to give away her toys if she didn’t learn a complex piano piece.
Lulu has given many interviews defending her mother and her methods; she said that her parents taught her the value of hard work and made it possible for her to succeed. Others have pointed out that the “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” is partly satirical and self-deprecating; Chua wrote it when Lulu was a rebellious college student.
Lulu earned a BA from Harvard and is now a student at Harvard Law. She says that she plans to be a “tiger mom” herself one day.