What Keeps RNLA Co-Chair Patricia Paoletta Up at Night?

As we celebrate Women's History Month, we spoke with the Republican National Lawyers Assocation Co-Chair Patricia "Tricia" Paoletta about women in the law, attacks on the Supreme Court, and what keeps her up at night in this presidential election year.


Can you tell me about your experience in the 2006 confirmation hearings of Justice Alito? I understand at one point you had to jump in front of a group of progressive women who were trying to dominate a C-SPAN video livestream during a break in the hearing?  

C-SPAN had placed an open mic outside of the Senate hearing room where Judge Alito’s supporters could go on camera during breaks in the hearing to voice their support for his nomination. I had been patiently waiting my turn in line when a woman from a progressive group opposed to his nomination cut in front of me for a chance to get on camera. I allowed her to speak, but when I attempted to go to the mic, a second woman from that same group tried to edge me out! This time, I wasn’t having it! I firmly placed myself in front of the camera before she could push me aside as the first woman had done.


Where does your confidence and conviction to be so bold come from?

I played competitive sports growing up and politics in this town can be a competitive sport. I wasn’t going to let someone cut in front of me. I was there to support Judge Alito and I was going to do my job and speak consistently with my convictions. I have a sense of righteousness and fairness, but also a competitive nature. In addition to playing softball and basketball, I ran track and was the fastest girl in my elementary school in suburban Chicago!

What advice do you have for young women coming up in the legal profession?

Certainly, pursue opportunities that are consistent with your interest area but be open to other opportunities. Don’t be rigid. Say “yes” to opportunities. I once had an older colleague tell me “The clients are out there, outside. Not in here. Get out and volunteer, that is where you will meet people who you will network with in the future.” I think today many young people undervalue the importance of face-to-face interactions.

I had always wanted to do international telecommunications law and had an opportunity after George H.W. Bush was elected to interview for a job with the Federal Communications Commission. While it wasn’t what I thought I wanted, I interviewed for the position and from there I found another opportunity that was a better fit for me. I have always advocated for myself in my career.

I am the mother of four young folks, some millennials, some Gen Z, and I tell them that they need to advocate for themselves, but just as important, they need to work hard in their current role and then those people around them will become their advocates. 

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is nice to see we have more parity between men and women studying the law, but ultimately, we need to encourage and celebrate excellence. That is the most important thing for lawyers.  

The RNLA is a leader in protecting our elections from malfeasance and fraud, what do you think poses the greatest threat to the upcoming presidential election? What keeps you up at night?

My biggest concern is not having enough Republican lawyers and observers on the ground and in the field making sure everyone is following the law. Everything is better in sunlight. We must have enough people to oversee the elections process and to challenge and correct mistakes. We need enough people volunteering in those roles.

What are your thoughts on the increasing personal attacks on conservative Supreme Court Justices? 

It is a very unfair, undemocratic, and nefarious attempt by the Left to influence the conservative Justices on the Court. In the case of Justice Thomas, they are trying to stress him out enough to leave. They are trying to undermine public confidence in the Court. But our conservative Justices are not going to be bullied off the field, particularly Justice Thomas who grew up in the segregated South. So, the Left’s efforts are in vain. They will not be effective.