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 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Adelaide Feibel | email@example.com