Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh (pictured above right) will not return to teach at Harvard Law School in January, according to an email that administrators sent to law students Monday evening. (Harvard Law’s Langdell Hall is shown above left.)
The sequence of events that led to this change in the Harvard course remains unclear, but withdrawing from it appears to have been Kavanaugh’s choice.
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“Today, Judge Kavanaugh indicated that he can no longer commit to teaching his course in January Term 2019, so the course will not be offered,” Catherine Claypoole, Harvard Law’s associate dean and dean for academic and faculty affairs, wrote in the email, which she sent on behalf of the law school’s curriculum committee, said The Harvard Crimson.
The course Kavanaugh was to teach, “The Supreme Court Since 2005,” was to last for three weeks; the judge has taught at Harvard Law School for roughly a decade, noted The Crimson.
“The showdown over Kavanaugh has roiled the campus where he spent 10 years instructing Harvard Law students on issues such as the separation of powers and the court on which he hopes to serve,” said The Crimson.
Though law school Dean John F. Manning “has remained largely silent throughout the controversy,” notes the publication, “law students and alumni — as well as Harvard undergraduates — have been outspoken in their desire to see Kavanaugh investigated and possibly barred from teaching in Cambridge.”
Hundreds of alumni reportedly signed a letter to Manning urging him to “rescind” Kavanaugh’s position as a lecturer and to “forbid” the judge from teaching at the Ivy League institution, noted The Crimson.
The alumni had not sent the letter to Manning as of Monday evening — but they made sure it was available online.
Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, the wife of Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), co-authored the letter, said The Crimson.
“We believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment as an HLS [Harvard Law School] lecturer sends a message to law students, and in particular female students, that powerful men are above the law, and that obstructive, inappropriate behavior will be rewarded,” the letter stated. “Judge Kavanaugh is not leadership material, and he is not lectureship material. HLS would be tarnished to have him on campus in any position of authority.”
The alumni took issue with the SCOTUS nominee’s vigorous and impassioned defense of himself in the face of the damning allegations that, as he put it, have “destroyed” his family.
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“In addition to the substance of these allegations,” the alumni letter stated, “Judge Kavanaugh’s comportment and testimony during the appointment process have cast further doubt on his fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. The American Bar Association has called for a delay in the appointment process until an FBI investigation can be conducted, and has emphasized the rule of law imperatives underscoring the need for such an investigation.”
The letter also stated, “We believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment as an HLS lecturer sends a message to law students, and in particular female students, that powerful men are above the law, and that obstructive, inappropriate behavior will be rewarded. Judge Kavanaugh is not leadership material, and he is not lectureship material. HLS would be tarnished to have him on campus in any position of authority. We ask that you rescind his lectureship.”
The document as of Tuesday morning had garnered over 700 signatures. Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, the wife of Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), co-authored the letter, said The Crimson.
Current students in at least six of seven first-year law student “sections” also sent separate letters to Manning over the weekend. Each letter asked Manning to launch a Harvard-led investigation into the sexual assault allegations leveled against the nominee.
“Allowing a person credibly accused of sexual assault to teach students prior to a full investigation surely creates a hostile environment for many students, and especially survivors,” students wrote in one letter.
On Monday, Manning broke his silence in an email to law students, saying he understood some on campus were “unsatisfied with the answer that we cannot comment on personnel matters in particular cases,” said The Crimson, noting that “the policy serves important purposes even in stressful times.”
“Still, I can provide you this assurance: When concerns and allegations arise about individuals in our teaching program, we take those concerns and allegations seriously, conduct necessary inquiries, complete our process, and then act,” he wrote in the email.
In the comments section of The Crimson’s article, support for Kavanaugh can indeed be found.
“How are Yale and Harvard show[ing] so much disrespect for the law and due process. I guess they run on emotions and I believe the real reason is they do not agree with conservative thought,” noted one writer. “Their behavior is very similar to racial discrimination (same root cause attacking someone who is different ideas). No proof … Google false eye witness testimony and see how many people lives have been ruined from false testimony. Look at the actual evidence and let that be your guide.”
Another forward-looking commenter posted, “Kavanaugh made the announcement and recommended himself to not be teaching because he will be busy serving our country on the Supreme Court.”
By Monday evening, Kavanaugh’s profile seems to have been scrubbed from the law school’s public faculty directory, noted The Crimson.