U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Women’s rights attorneys and other activists are expected to advocate against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 to the Supreme Court as his confirmation hearings begin in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, with the future of abortion rights potentially hanging in the balance.

But breaking with liberal consensus on what Kavanaugh’s appointment means for women, 10 of the judge’s female classmates are rallying behind their fellow Yalie.

In a letter addressed to chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Yale alumni lauded Kavanaugh’s character, emphasizing that he was an avid supporter of female athletics during his time at Yale, as well as a respectful and humble friend who treated his classmates as equals, wherever they fell on the political spectrum.

“Many of us played varsity sports at Yale,” the letter states. “His appreciation of the importance of women’s athletics was impressive at that time. It clearly is something he has carried forward to the present day, with his years of coaching girls’ basketball teams and his raising two daughters who are enthusiastic athletes and sports fans.”

Two of the letter’s signatories declined to comment for this story, and the rest could not be reached for comment.

Three Ivy League political science professors told the News that the letter is unlikely to convert senators who oppose Kavanaugh’s appointment. Still, they stressed that his nomination to the Supreme Court will be an almost surefire success with a Republican majority in the Senate.

“The battle lines are drawn on political and jurisprudence issues,” said Bob Shapiro, professor of government at Columbia University. Shapiro also contended that a recent New York Times Op-Ed penned by constitutional law professor Akhil Reed Amar ’80 LAW ’84 in support of Kavanaugh — his former law student — is also unlikely to affect how the votes fall.

Amar, along with two of Kavanaugh’s former classmates — Kenneth Christmas LAW ’91 and Louisa Garry ’87, a teacher from Locust Valley, New York, who is also a signatory of the letter  — will travel to Washington, D.C. this week to testify in support of their former classmate.

In interviews with the News over the summer, Kavanaugh’s old friends spoke of his gregarious personality and penchant for putting ketchup on his pasta. They noted that despite his political ambitions, the aspiring Supreme Court justice didn’t talk about politics much while at school.

In the letter, Kavanaugh’s female classmates focused on his character.

“We will leave it to others to speak to Brett’s record as a public servant. We speak to his record as a truly exceptional person. We are proud to call him our friend,” the letter states.

But, not everyone at the law school is thrilled about Kavanaugh’s nomination. In July, around 175 law school alumni and students signed a petition that condemns the university’s press release, which boasted Kavanaugh’s accomplishments. “He is a threat to many of us, despite the privilege bestowed by our education, simply because of who we are.”

Hearings for Kavanaugh’s nomination will begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Adelaide Feibel | adelaide.feibel@yale.edu

Hailey Fuchs | hailey.fuchs@yale.edu