A day after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Yale alumnus Brett Kavanaugh ‘87 LAW ‘90 to the Supreme Court, 175 Yale Law School alumni and students have signed a petition condemning the University for “boasting of its alumnus’s accomplishment.”

The letter criticizes a press release that the Law School circulated shortly after the nomination was announced. The press release, which appears on the front page of the Yale News website, features quotes from several Law School professors and administrators — including Law School Dean Heather Gerken — lauding Kavanaugh.

“The press release’s focus on the nominee’s professionalism, pedigree, and service to Yale Law School obscures the true stakes of his nomination and raises a disturbing question,” the petition states. “Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?”

In a statement, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy emphasized that the Law School is “a nonpartisan institution.

“We routinely acknowledge high-profile nominations of our alumni,” he said. “We did exactly the same thing not so long ago when Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’79 received her nomination to the High Court.”

Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, is a constitutional originalist with ties to conservative politics. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kavanaugh — nominated to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a longtime swing vote on the court — would give the court’s conservative block a 5-4 majority, potentially imperiling abortion rights and other liberal causes.

The Law School letter zeroes in on a dissent Kavanaugh wrote a few months ago, in a case in which the the appeals court ruled that an undocumented minor denied an abortion could temporarily leave immigration custody to have the procedure.

In the dissent, Kavanaugh wrote that although the Trump administration had conceded that the teen had a right to receive an abortion, delaying the procedure until she could be assigned an American sponsor would not impose an undue burden.

The petition cited several of Kavanaugh’s other opinions, including one that denied undocumented workers labor protections and another supporting the National Security Agency’s surveillance of phone calls.

“Perhaps you, as an institution and as individuals, will benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendent power if you withhold your support,” the petition states. “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.”

Hailey Fuchs | hailey.fuchs@yale.edu

Adelaide Feibel | adelaide.feibel@yale.edu

  • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

    Jealous

  • neemer5

    This nominee is perfectly qualified to be a Justice, and I’m 100% sure the entire current Supreme Court bench would agree with that sentiment.
    Yale Law School is an institution that strives to put professionalism above everything else, especially politics. The 200 undersigned are doing a massive disservice to the school, the Supreme Court and the institution of Law in this country by their politically motivated petition.
    Further, numerous claims raised are baseless and unwarranted. I’m shocked that students, alumni and staff of this great institution would participate in hearsay and conjecture

    • CharlieWalls

      The examples given — quotes and, particularly, the descents — are obviously not “baseless” and quite warranted for those not in the clutches of contemporary Republicanism. Favanaugh explicitly worked against Clinton and for W. Bush. It seems perfectly valid and exceedingly helpful for the open letter to term this a political nomination, whatever his professional qualities may be.

      • ShadrachSmith

        The examples given: “people will die”?

        Everybody dies. Bring me one or more of the twits who signed this hyenic rant and let’s talk about legal arguments.

        Kavanaugh is the nation’s leading administrative law scholar. USA administrative law is out of control. Kavanaugh’s the perfect choice to get that back under control. Therefore, excellent choice.

        • CharlieWalls

          “People will die” is not an example of Kavanaugh’s thinking. You have your wires crossed. That sort of trickery takes the wee out of your substantive comment.

  • neemer5

    This nominee is perfectly qualified to be a Justice, and I’m 100% sure
    the entire current Supreme Court bench would agree with that sentiment.
    Yale
    Law School is an institution that strives to put professionalism above
    everything else, especially politics. The 200 undersigned are doing a
    massive disservice to the school, the Supreme Court and the institution
    of Law in this country by their politically motivated petition.
    Further,
    numerous claims raised are baseless and unwarranted. I’m shocked that
    students, alumni and staff of this great institution would participate
    in hearsay and conjecture

  • 72bullldog

    Don’t worry, law students. You won’t be hired to clerk at the Supreme Court. You will remain pure.

  • Nancy Morris

    This petition is a testament to the narrow mindedness of too many YLS graduates and faculty, and an embarrassment to its signers and the YLS.

    But it is ironic and humorous that if (rather, when) he is confirmed, Kavanaugh will be, with Justice Samuel Alito ’75, and Justice Clarence Thomas ’74, the Court’s three most conservative members.

    Of course, that conservative Yale hegemony may not last. Justices Ginsburg and Breyer are both in their 80s (happy August birthday, Justice Breyer), and are unlikely to last another six years on the Court. Their replacements will likely be as excellent and as conservative as Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and may not be YLS graduates. And Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’79 is also likely to be replaced by a highly conservative Trump appointee, especially if Trump is re-elected in 2020, which at the moment seems likely. Justice Sotomayor is a chronologically youngish 64, but she has had Type 1 diabetes since she was very young. Biologically she is probably already well over 80.

    That would leave Justice Kagan all alone as the Court’s only liberal.

    • CharlieWalls

      “Another six years” and “seems likely”…. And she is calling others narrow minded!

      • Debbie

        I think Nancy is a bit overconfident in her early prediction, but it’s more than stretch to equate that to “narrow mindedness.” Doing so says more about the width of your mind than hers.

    • ShadrachSmith

      Now you are just tormenting the kids, but gently.

      I wanted to recommend Kavanaugh’s speech at the Heritage Foundation, Oct 25, 2017. About an hour, first 20 sells himself, middle 20 butters up the audience, last 20 describes the evils done by unfettered judicial use of the word “ambiguity” to circumvent the best reading of statues, especially in the area of administrative law.

      Those who read scotus tea leaves, should listen to that last 20 min. I see some tea leaves just waiting to be read.

  • TheDopeFromHope

    Happy to see that Charles U. Farley, YLS ‘04, has signed the petition. Any word whether Hugh G. Reckshun, YLS ’19, will be signing as well?

  • merkinmuffy

    So one signatory named “Charles U. Farley” attended your university? Look up “Charles U. Farley”.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Kavanaugh’s purpose on scotus: peel the deep state’s greedy little fingers off their illegal over-reaching factional grasp on the administrative levers of power and permitting choke points of USA commerce. This is a good thing, you just watch and see.

  • RMarvel

    I actually was supportive of this nominee, until I heard he came from Screaming Girl’s alma mater. Considering what Yale has become, I’ll withdraw my support.

    • ObserverMI

      How about now?