Students demand that Yale Law spurn alumn's SCOTUS nomination
Hundreds of students, faculty, and alumni are “ashamed” that Yale Law School congratulated Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a 1990 alumnus, on his nomination to the Supreme Court.
An open letter to YLS administrators, which had garnered more than 300 signatures by press time, vociferously objects to a press release issued by the law school boasting of Kavanaugh’s accomplishment, asking, “Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?”
"Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?"
The signatories allege that “the press release’s focus on the nominee's professionalism, pedigree, and service to Yale Law School obscures the true stakes of his nomination,” saying it has made them “ashamed” of their alma mater.
The letter only becomes more strident as it goes along, saying that Kavanaugh’s nomination “presents an emergency—for democratic life, for our safety and freedom, [and] for the future of the country.” Indeed, the letter even goes so far as to declare that Kavanaugh “is a threat to many of us, despite the privilege bestowed by our education, simply because of who we are.”
It then proceeds to outline aspects of Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy with which the signatories do not agree, including his opinions related to abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act, and deference to the executive branch, among others.
Notably, the letter actually asserts that overturning Roe v. Wade, which President Trump has repeatedly stressed as a goal when discussing Supreme Court nominations, “would endanger the lives of countless people who need or may need abortions.”
The signatories also object to Kavanaugh’s 2015 dissent in a case involving the ACA’s contraceptive mandate, saying his argument that forcing religious organizations to provide birth control coverage gives them “grave concern that he will consistently prioritize the beliefs of third-parties over the rights of the oppressed.”
The press release that inspired the letter, which was shared by both Yale University and Yale Law School on social media platforms, includes information about the nominee’s background, as well as favorable opinions of Judge Kavanaugh by several Yale Law School professors, including Law School Dean Heather Gerken and Sterling Professor of Law Akhil Reed Amar, who also penned an opinion piece in The New York Times in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Professor Kate Stith, who teaches criminal and constitutional law at YLS, called Kavanaugh “a terrific judge” whose opinions “are smart, thoughtful, and clear,” while other individuals quoted in the release praised Kavanaugh’s dedication to mentorship of YLS students.
In contrast, the protest letter calls Kavanaugh “an intellectually and morally bankrupt ideologue,” declaring that his confirmation “would present an existential threat to the government’s ability to regulate for the common good” and “usher in a new era of Lochner, with ‘black-robed rulers overriding citizens’ choices.’”
Closing in contemptuous fashion, the letter sneers that Yale administrators might “benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendant power” if they withhold their support.
“Perhaps Judge Kavanaugh will be less likely to hire your favorite students. But people will die if he is confirmed,” the signatories conclude. “We hope you agree your sacrifice would be worth it. Please use your authority and platform to expose the stakes of this moment and the threat that Judge Kavanaugh poses.”
UPDATE: A YLS spokesperson provided Campus Reform with a statement defending the school's press release, calling it a standard response to prominent achievements by alumni.
"Yale Law School is a nonpartisan institution. We routinely acknowledge high-profile nominations of our alumni," the official said. "We did exactly the same thing not so long ago when Justice Sonia Sotomayor '79 received her nomination to the High Court."
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