Camped beneath Italian frescoes and a 156-year-old brass chandelier behind the floor of the U.S. Senate, UCI alum Megan Braun has an unusual window on the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.
The 2010 history graduate – a Navy officer’s daughter who became the university’s first Rhodes scholar – is assisting Chief Justice John Roberts as he presides over the hearings.
It’s the latest feather in Braun’s well-festooned cap, which includes a law degree from Yale University (where she served as executive editor of the school’s prestigious legal journal), a master’s in international relations from the University of Oxford (where she played water polo, joined a rowing crew and published peer-reviewed papers on military drones) and law clerkships with the U.S. departments of State and Justice.
At UCI, the San Diego native racked up an eclectic array of accomplishments, such as helping to organize the school’s first Guinness world record (a massive dodgeball game), serving two terms as president of Associated Students of UCI, playing goalie on the women’s water polo squad, participating in the Olive Tree Initiative and being named the Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Undergraduate Student of 2010.
Last summer, Braun was selected to be a Supreme Court law clerk, which led to her current role at the Senate impeachment trial. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg says clerks aren’t allowed to do media interviews but revealed several details of Braun’s work for Roberts.
Each day of the hearings, she accompanies the chief justice to the Capitol, where Roberts has temporarily set up shop in the ornately decorated President’s Room, located near the Senate chamber. Braun is on hand to conduct legal research and other tasks, Arberg says, and is apparently the only one of Roberts’ four clerks to join him at the trial.
Judging from the resumés of past Supreme Court clerks (five of whom are current justices), she has a promising future after her one-year stint ends. Law firms have recently been offering $400,000 bonuses to former clerks – many of whom, says one news article, go on to serve in prominent positions in academia or on the bench.
Braun’s military upbringing has fueled an interest in “just war theory” and war crimes law. Her senior thesis at UCI examined how weapons technology desensitizes U.S. soldiers to loss of life.
In 2010, after Braun won a Rhodes scholarship, then-dean of humanities Vicki L. Ruiz called her “exceptional in every respect – a capacious critical thinker and a dynamic student leader.”
Since graduating, Braun has maintained strong ties with the campus, serving as a founding member of the UCI Young Alumni Council from 2014 to 2017 and attending multiple Alumni Association events in New York City and Washington, D.C.