By: Alexandria A. Chaidez
Roughly two dozen Harvard Law School professors have signed a New York Times editorial arguing that the United States Senate should not confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Harvard affiliates — including former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and Laurence Tribe — joined more than 1,000 law professors across the country in signing the editorial, published online Wednesday. The professors wrote that Kavanaugh displayed a lack of “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land” in the heated testimony he gave during a nationally televised hearing held Sept. 27 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry,” the letter read. “Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners.”
As of Wednesday evening, 25 Harvard Law professors had signed the article, which authors indicated “will be updated as more signatures are received.” The signatories plan to present the story as a letter to the United States Senate on Oct. 4.
Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate committee to address allegations of sexual misconduct raised by Palo Alto psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of attempting to rape her at a house party in 1982 in suburban Maryland. Ford recounted these allegations in detail to the Judiciary Committee last Thursday before Kavanaugh himself testified.
After Ford went public with her allegations, two more women — Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick — came forward with their own charges. Ramirez said Kavanaugh shoved his penis in her face at a party during their freshman year at Yale College and Swetnick issued a statement in which she said she saw Kavanaugh engage in “inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s.”
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied these allegations. During last Thursday’s hearing, he vehemently and angrily insisted that the women’s tales of sexual misconduct formed part of a partisan plot by the Democrats to ruin his nomination.
The professors did not take a stance on the allegations against Kavanaugh, focusing instead on the judge’s temperament and writing that “we have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh.”
The Crimson reported Monday evening that Kavanaugh will not return to teach at the Law School this winter; he was originally slated to teach a class titled “The Supreme Court Since 2005” for three weeks starting in early January. Kavanaugh has lectured at the Law School for roughly a decade.
In their letter, the professors wrote that “judicial temperament” numbers among the “most important qualities of a judge” and that Kavanaugh’s lack of composure at his hearing is “disqualifying” for a nomination “for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.”
The professors also criticized Kavanaugh for calling the hearing “partisan” and for displaying agitation over Senators’ questions.
“Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators,” the professors wrote.
Law School Dean John F. Manning ’82 was not among the letter’s signatories.
As of late Wednesday, the letter had been signed by the following:
SABI ARDALAN Assistant Clinical Professor, Harvard Law School
CHRISTOPHER T. BAVITZ WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
ELIZABETH BARTHOLET Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
CHRISTINE DESAN Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
SUSAN H. FARBSTEIN Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
JUDGE NANCY GERTNER Retired, Harvard Law School
ROBERT GREENWALD Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
MICHAEL GREGORY Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
JANET HALLEY Royall Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
JON HANSON Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
ADRIAAN LANNI Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
BRUCE H. MANN Carl F. Schipper, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
FRANK MICHELMAN Robert Walmsley University Professor, Emeritus, Harvard Law School
MARTHA MINOW 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University
ROBERT H. MNOOKIN Williston Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
INTISAR RABB Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
DAPHNA RENAN Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
DAVID L. SHAPIRO William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School
JOSEPH WILLIAM SINGER Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
CAROL S. STEIKER Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
MATTHEW C. STEPHENSON Eli Goldston Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
LAURENCE TRIBE Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School
LUCIE WHITE Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
ALEX WHITING Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School
JONATHAN ZITTRAIN George Bemis Professor of International Law, Harvard Law School