900 female law school faculty professors sign letter opposing Kavanaugh

900 female law school faculty professors sign letter opposing Kavanaugh
© Anna Moneymaker

Nearly a thousand female faculty members at law schools around the country signed onto a letter sent to the Senate opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, arguing the judge lacks “the requisite judicial temperament” to sit on the court.

Kathleen Engel, a research professor at Suffolk University Law School who helped organize the letter, told The Hill on Thursday that more than 900 women have signed onto the document since it was first circulated on Monday night.

"Our goal is for the Senate to take its obligation to the American public seriously," she said. "It is really a tragedy for the country and it threatens our democracy to have such a politicized process and to have a candidate who is really taking politics into the courtroom as a judge."

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The letter cited Kavanaugh’s conduct during a Senate Judiciary Hearing last week where he denied allegations from Christine Blasey Ford that he pinned her to a bed and groped her during a 1980s high school party. The signatories suggested that Kavanaugh’s combative interactions with female Democratic senators during the hearing were particularly problematic.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s lack of respect for our democratic institutions, and for women in positions of power in particular, revealed that he does not have the requisite judicial temperament,” the letter states.

“We would never allow our students to engage in such conduct even in mock proceedings in the classroom,” the letter continues. “If the venue for Judge Kavanaugh’s conduct had been a courtroom, a judge might have found him in contempt.” 

The women who signed onto the letter, which was sent to the Senate on Wednesday, also expressed doubts about Kavanaugh’s impartiality after he blasted the hearing last week as part of an “orchestrated political hit” born out of frustration about the 2016 election. 

The signatories hold a range of positions at law schools across the country, including full time professor, associate professor, associate dean, associate librarian and volunteer faculty.

The women behind the letter came up with the idea while watching last week's hearings and considering how it may affect staff and students, said Engel, who has been teaching for roughly 30 years and previously clerked in the Federal Court of Appeals.

She also expressed broader concerns about how the chaos surrounding Kavanaugh's hearings will be received by young women, and female law students.

"The whole ruckus about this issue and about what kind of behavior is appropriate and how women who allege violence are treated is sending very, very bad signals to girls in our society," Engel said. "I think lots of people are saying this, but I just keep thinking about my own daughters."

Several of the women who signed off on Thursday’s letter also signed onto a letter published Wednesday in The New York Times, in which more than 650 law professors urged the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination.

The professors in that letter argued that Kavanaugh's performance during the hearing would be disqualifying for service on any court.

"We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh," the letter states. "But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land."

Kavanaugh's nomination has been imperiled by sexual misconduct allegations in recent weeks. In addition to Ford, Deborah Ramirez has alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a college party in the 1980s.

And Julie Swetnick has also claimed in a signed declaration that Kavanaugh was part of a group of high schoolers who she saw try to get girls drunk so they could be "gang raped."

Kavanaugh has fiercely denied all of the allegations.

The Senate on Thursday will review a supplementary FBI investigation into the allegations, which Judiciary panel Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill Top security officials issue stark warning of Chinese espionage efforts MORE (R-Iowa) says offers no corroborative evidence of the accusers' claims.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law Federal judge in Texas strikes down ObamaCare Ocasio-Cortez: By Lindsey Graham's 1999 standard for Clinton, Trump should be impeached MORE (R-Ky.) has set a key process vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for Friday, meaning senators are likely to vote on the judge's confirmation by this weekend.

Republicans and President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israeli capital, won't move embassy Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law MORE have stood firm by Kavanaugh and expressed confidence that the judge will be confirmed, while Democrats have criticized the limited scope of the FBI review.