Flooding the halls of the Yale Law School and the Hart Senate Office Building in D.C. on Monday, over 400 Yale community members protested the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90.

The protests — which followed a second allegation of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee reported in the New Yorker on Sunday — led to the arrests of Jacob Schriner-Briggs LAW ’21 and Jesse Tripathi LAW ’21, two law students who protested at the Senate Office Building. In addition to the D.C. protests, which drew more than 100 Yale Law students, 300 Yale community members held a sit-in at the Law School, calling for a condemnation of Kavanaugh’s nomination from the school’s administration.

“We are here today to decry misogyny and to stand in solidarity with all those who are affected by sexual harassment,” said Dianne Lake ’16 LAW ’20, an organizer of the sit-in. “We are here to make loud and clear that the Yale Law community doesn’t stand for Brett Kavanaugh.”

In anticipation of the sit-in, faculty members cancelled about 31 of the 49 Monday classes at the Law School to allow students to protest, according to representatives of Yale Law Students Demanding Better, which organized both the demonstrations in New Haven and in D.C.. The sit-in began with a 30-minute period of silence, followed by student remarks on the high stakes of Kavanaugh’s confirmation — which would produce a reliable conservative majority on the Court.

Senator Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn., also spoke at the sit-in, thanking students and faculty members for standing up to Kavanaugh and calling for an FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez ’87. In the afternoon, the law students in Washington held a joint press conference with Blumenthal and Senator Chris Coons LAW ’92 DIV ’92, D-Del..

“I sit with you, I’m proud to be here in a hallway I spent three years of my life traversing,” Blumenthal said to students. “Today is an opportunity and an occasion to show we stand with survivors of sexual assault.”

Blumenthal vowed to continue pushing for an FBI investigation and urged the White House to call for an impartial fact-finder to investigate the women’s claims. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, and the White House has stood behind him, calling Ramirez’s accusation “the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man” in a statement.

In D.C., Schriner-Briggs and Tripathi told the News they were arrested by Capitol Police for verbally protesting and blocking the ability to move through a public building by standing in the rotunda of the Senate Office Building. They said they were invited to participate in the protest by activist Ady Barkan LAW ’10 and intended to get arrested, in an effort to show solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and bring attention to the “amazing work of the organizers at Yale Law School.” The students were not convicted of any crimes and were released after about four hours. Dozens of other protestors were also arrested at the Senate Office Building, Schriner-Briggs and Tripathi said.

Students at the sit-in sharply criticized the Law School’s silence on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. On Friday, 50 faculty members signed an open letter addressed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that calls on the Senate to conduct a “fair and deliberate confirmation process” and expresses concern over a potential rushed judgment on Kavanaugh by the Senate.

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., posted a Tweet on Monday, urging the committee to move forward with a hearing on Thursday and “vote in committee soon thereafter.”

Mary Ella Simmons LAW ’20, who helped organize the sit-in, said students are especially frustrated that the Law School has not released an official statement calling for a fair investigation into Ford and Ramirez’s allegations. In July, the Law School released a press release, in which Law School Dean Heather Gerken and four other professors commended Kavanaugh’s accomplishments. Though the Law School has argued it does not endorse nor oppose nominees for office, Simmons said that it was difficult not to read the press release as an endorsement of Kavanaugh.

On Monday, Gerken released another statement commending students, staff and faculty for raising concern about the allegations against Kavanaugh and for working with the Law School to promote discourse around the nomination. Gerken reiterated that she cannot take a position on Kavanaugh’s nomination as dean but said she is proud of the community for engaging in a “long-standing Yale Law School tradition as they engage with the most important issues of the day.”

Still, Kathryn Pogin LAW ’20 said that while she appreciated Gerken’s support for the demonstration, the Law School should take a firmer position on an issue that “isn’t just about politics.”

“This is about ensuring that allegations of sexual violence are given a full and fair hearing before we grant men in the legal profession positions of of power, lifetime tenure and expansive control over the future of our democracy,” Pogin said. “If Yale Law School can’t take a position on fair process, by what right does it have anything to say about justice?”

According to Lake, one of the organizers, the vast majority of professors with Monday classes agreed to cancel their classes and “offered support and solidarity for the organizing efforts.” Still, not all faculty members said they approved of this response. Law School professor Steven Duke said he questioned the cancellation of classes to facilitate student political protests, calling it a “political act which seems academically improper to me.”

Students at the sit-in also shared personal stories about how the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh have impacted them and later shared demands for the Law School administration to change a culture that they perceive enables sexual misconduct.

Many law students interviewed by the News expressed concern over allegations that law professors were aware of misconduct by judges like Alex Kozinski — a former appellate court judge who quit last year over allegations of improper misconduct and abusive practices toward law clerks. The students also pointed to the anonymous accounts published last week in The Guardian alleging that Law School professor Amy Chua told students it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh’s female clerks “looked like models” and advised female students about their physical appearance.

“This is our career, this is our future livelihood,” said Brandon Willmore LAW ’21. “I’m so proud to have been accepted at YLS … but if we as a body aren’t willing to take action and stand up to those who have been accused of sexual violence, then there’s nothing good to be proud of.”

Over the weekend, Yale Law students put up signs around the school with statements including “YLS, you knew about Kozinski” and “#WheresGerken.”

Lake told the News that she wants greater accountability from Law School faculty regarding judges’ conduct and more transparency around the clerkship hiring process. The Law School’s complicity and failure to report judges’ misconduct has “posed a risk to the safety of students and a threat to general equality in the workplace, particularly in the most prestigious positions in the legal world,” Lake said.

On Saturday, Law School professor Jed Rubenfeld — who is married to Chua and currently under investigation by Yale for misconduct — sent a statement to the Law School community on Chua’s behalf, in which she denied the allegations levied against her.

“Everything that is being said about the advice I give to students applying to Brett Kavanaugh — or any judge — is outrageous, 100 percent false and the exact opposite of everything I have stood for and said for the last fifteen years,” Chua’s statement reads. “My record as a clerkship mentor, especially for women and minorities, is among the things I’m most proud of in my life.”

After the allegations against Chua were published, Gerken wrote in an email to the News that “faculty misconduct has no place at Yale Law School” and that the allegations reported in The Guardian “are of enormous concern to me and to the School.”

President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on July 9.

Alice Park | alice.park@yale.edu

Correction, Sept. 25: This story incorrectly wrote that faculty cancelled about 30 out of 39 classes when in fact faculty cancelled 31 out of 49 classes.

  • Terrence Lorelei

    So Yale’s School of Law and wannabe attorneys are not aware of the Nation’s bedrocks of our legal system. Of course, that would be the presumption of innocence and guarantee of due process. We shudder to think what damage the privileged darlings will do in the future, after the obviously bonehead tutelage they’re receiving from Yale Law faculty. However, after they’re all eventually disbarred, they’ll make great Democrat community organizers.

  • Terrence Lorelei

    So Yale’s School of Law and wannabe attorneys are not aware of the Nation’s bedrocks of our legal system. Of course, that would be the presumption of innocence and guarantee of due process. We shudder to think what damage these future shingle-hangers will do out in the real world, after the obviously incomplete tutelage they’re receiving from Yale Law faculty. However, after they’re all eventually disbarred, they’ll make great Democrat community organizers.

  • Arsene Lupin

    Any chance this is mostly or exclusively about politics? Yes.

    These same students worship Hillary Clinton who said and did horrible thing to sexual assault survivors and enabled Bill to assault multiple women.

    Did any of these students mention Keith Ellison at their sit-in? His victim has presented credible evidence of his assault. Yet, a poll found that only 5% of liberals believe the “survivor” in that case. I wonder why.

  • micah09

    This is an affront to the very principles these students are taught, or more correctly, what they’ve been taught but are carelessly disregarding. They are kneejerk-crediting an accuser who has not even testified or been questioned yet, and in circumstances where none of the people she has identified as witnesses are backing her up. What are they trying to convince the public of? That they are stupid, irresponsible, or, that when they become real lawyers, they are not worth entrusting your case to?

  • Nancy Morris

    Over and over, there is no enthusiasm in these “witnesses” against Kavanaugh to speak to the Senate under penalty of perjury. Ms Ramirez sends her regrets:

    Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who sits on the committee, said a lawyer for Ramirez told committee staff she would not speak to them about her allegation that Kavanaugh flashed his naked groin in her face during an alcohol-laden party their freshman year. Ramirez made the accusation in a blockbuster Sunday night New Yorker story.

    “Our counsel repeatedly tried to reach him,” Kennedy said of Ramirez’s lawyer. “They finally did reached him, and he said we are not issuing a statement. He said if you want our statement, read the New Yorker.”

    And it seems Ms Ford also regrets. In the letter addressed to Sen. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ford’s legal team cites Sen. Majority Leader’s Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) speech on the Senate floor on Monday afternoon as “flatly inconsistent” with Grassley’s promise of a “fair and credible process.”

    “In our view, the hiring of an unnamed ‘experienced sex crimes prosecutor’ as Mr. Davis described in his email, is contrary to the Majority’s repeated emphasis on the need for the Senate and this Committee’s members to fulfill their constitutional obligations,” attorney Michael Bromwich wrote. “It is also inconsistent with your stated wish to avoid a ‘circus,’ as well as Dr. Blasey Ford’s repeated requests through counsel that senators conduct the questioning. This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate.”

    Ford’s team requested the identity of the sex crimes prosecutors the Committee would invite to the hearing along with their resumes.

    The letter also blasts the the White House’s refusal to order an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegation.

    “The hearing plan that Mr. Davis described does not appear designed to provide Dr. Blasey Ford with fair and respectful treatment,” Bromwich said.

    The matters cited by the protestors in this article as supporting their ire sometimes border on the ridiculous. The advice Prof. Chua allegedly gave – but denies giving – to wannabe Kavanaugh clerks is supposed to mean something here? Please. You are embarrassing yourselves and YLS.

    So Brandon Willmore LAW ’21 says that “if we as a body aren’t willing to take action and stand up to those who have been accused of sexual violence, then there’s nothing good to be proud of?” What if somebody accuses Willmore of sexual violence? Shoud he be expelled from YLS on that account? This person wants to be a lawyer?

  • heavensdoor

    Senator Blumenthal is so proud to protest a man who he has zero evidence
    of being guilty of this allegation or any other allegation. Please..guys..stay
    off my jury cause you are dangerous and cruel..and your victim apparently
    is believed blindly and without any evidence of any sort. I hope one of you
    males someday has the same exact thing brought upon you..maybe then
    you will appreciate and follow the rule of law and GOD forbid decency. This
    is all about Abortion Rights. Period. Every man is not a rapist and every
    woman is not a truth teller..regardless what the fine Senator from Hawaii
    tries to tell everyone. The Cause is the issue here…and anyone who is
    perceived to stand in the way must go. At any cost.
    I wasn’t there. You were not there and those that were there say it never
    happened..including her witness. I’d like to say the Senator ought to be ashamed
    of himself for joining the lynch first ask questions later ..but I guess if you can
    bold faced tell Vietnam veterans while meeting with them that you served in Vietnam and that “you know how
    they feel” (well this lie was not just once told either)..I guess lynching an innocent man is
    no problem for some. Sadly I voted for this Senator..but at least it’s fool me once.
    By the time the accuser makes it to the table to testify she’ll be nothing less than
    Joan of Arc.
    There are enough allegations of females at Yale getting attacked and some even
    raped by their fellow male students..perhaps you could take up that cause and
    change the problems right there on YOUR campus or does that make you too
    uncomfortable? Probably…this is a nice diversion for some. Like Hillary coming
    to New Haven a couple years back and voicing her disapproval of how UCONN (you know that public University of less fortunate kids)..handles their sexual complaints by female students…totally ignoring the complaints by Yale female students who find
    themselves being told to “try to get along” with their alleged attackers. Yikes.
    But having Hillary attack anyone about sexual complaints is a total joke anyway.
    The grand enabler herself who trashes and brashes anyone making a complaint about her own favorite in-house problem.
    Most people given the common sense gene (something that too many Yalies do not have)….know exactly what is going on here..and it’s scary.

  • ShadrachSmith

    This is fair play. Kavanagh is the greatest threat to the growing power of the administrative state excepting only President Trump himself. Was Obama peak administrative state?

  • Badwan Light

    Yale Law students protesting against Due Process, Right to confront one’s accuser, and presumption of innocence.

    If this is what they teach at Yale Law School, then that institution is not a guardian of our civil liberties, but a threat to them

  • Silence Dogood

    Senator Joe Biden at 1991 Clarence Thomas Senate committee hearing:

    “I said from the beginning, this is about whether or not sexual harassment occurred,” Biden said. “And lastly, Judge, with me, from the beginning and at this moment, until the end, the presumption is with you. Now we are going to hear more witnesses. They are going to come in and corroborate your position and hers. And we will find out whether they are telling the truth or not, as best as we are capable of doing, just like you as a judge are when you look them in the eye and make a judgment.”

    “Judge, this is less directed at you than it is to my pontificating colleagues, Democrat and Republican alike, so, Judge, I have not made my judgment, based upon this proceeding, because we have not heard all the evidence,” Biden continued.

    “The last thing I will point out, the next person who refers to an FBI report as being worth anything, obviously doesn’t understand anything. FBI explicitly does not, in this or any other case, reach a conclusion, period. Period,” Biden said. “The reason why we cannot rely on the FBI report [is] you would not like it if we did because it is inconclusive. They say, ‘He said, she said, and they said. Period.”