Yale Law Students, Alums, and Professors Blast School Officials for Praising Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Kavanaugh

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


If Trump’s nominee to the open seat on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed, he will be the fifth pro-fascist vote on the nine-member panel and clearly tip the “highest court in the land” into a compliant tool of the fascist transformation of the U.S. One thing Kavanaugh’s backers tout (and even his critics in the Democratic Party acknowledge) is his supposed legal “pedigree”—he is a graduate of Yale and Yale Law School. After his nomination, Yale Law School issued a statement touting Kavanaugh, including a quote from Dean Heather Gerken: “I can personally attest that, in addition to his government and judicial service, Judge Kavanaugh has been a longtime friend to many of us in the Yale Law School community. Ever since I joined the faculty, I have admired him for serving as a teacher and mentor to our students and for hiring a diverse set of clerks, in all respects, during his time on the court.”

In a righteous and much-needed response to this craven praise for a fascist judge, dozens of Yale Law School students, alums, and professors issued an open letter on July 10 addressed to Dean Gerken and the school leadership, exposing Kavanaugh’s reactionary record and positions on different issues, and condemning the school officials’ endorsement of him.

The open letter said the school’s press release on Kavanaugh “obscures the true stakes of his nomination and raises a disturbing question: Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?”

The letter then says:

Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination presents an emergency—for democratic life, for our safety and freedom, for the future of our country. His nomination is not an interesting intellectual exercise to be debated amongst classmates and scholars in seminar. Support for Judge Kavanaugh is not apolitical. It is a political choice about the meaning of the constitution and our vision of democracy, a choice with real consequences for real people. Without a doubt, Judge Kavanaugh is a threat to the most vulnerable. He is a threat to many of us, despite the privilege bestowed by our education, simply because of who we are.

The letter digs into Kavanaugh’s dangerous position against the right to abortion:

Since his campaign launched, Trump has repeatedly promised to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Overturning that decision would endanger the lives of countless people who need or may need abortions—including many who sign this letter. Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh is a reliable way to fulfill his oath. Just a few months ago, Judge Kavanaugh ruled to deny a detained immigrant minor her constitutional right to abortion. Decades-old Supreme Court precedent makes clear that the government may not place an undue burden on a pregnant person’s access to abortion. But Judge Kavanaugh clearly did not feel constrained by precedent: what could be a greater obstacle than a cage? The minor had never wavered in her decision to seek an abortion and had received a judicial bypass from a state judge who found that she was competent to make the decision. Yet Kavanaugh condescendingly and disingenuously held that she must wait weeks until she was in a “better place” to make a choice about her own bodily autonomy—at which point she might not be able to have a legal abortion. Further, Kavanaugh argued that to require immigration authorities to stop blocking her from accessing this right would force the government into complicity.

The letter follows that with exposure of Kavanaugh’s reactionary position on access to contraceptives and other health issues and rights of LGBTQ people:

The judge employed similar spurious reasoning in a 2015 dissent arguing that the ACA’s contraceptive mandate violated the rights of religious organizations, even though those organizations were granted an accommodation that allowed them to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage. Kavanaugh’s opinions give us grave concern that he will consistently prioritize the beliefs of third-parties over the rights of the oppressed—not only when it comes to abortion and contraception, but also regarding other forms of medical care (including care for transgender patients), family privacy, and sexual liberty. Litigants harness this same logic when arguing that institutions have a religious right to discriminate against LGBT people—an issue the Court is certain to take up in the years to come.

The letter goes on to break down Kavanaugh’s positions on a number of other important issues. The Yale students, alums, and professors close their open letter by saying:

Now is the time for moral courage—which for Yale Law School comes at so little cost. Perhaps you, as an institution and as individuals, will benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendent power if you withhold your support. Perhaps Judge Kavanaugh will be less likely to hire your favorite students. But people will die if he is confirmed. 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.

The open letter in its entirety, including signatories, is available online here.


Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.