Seven UK faculty members are among over 2,400 law professors who signed a letter addressed to the U.S. Senate calling for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court to be overturned.
The letter was published in the New York Times on Wednesday and stated that Kavanaugh has “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.”
The country watched last week as Kavanaugh was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee about recent allegations of sexual assault and misconduct dating back to the 1980s.
One of the three women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford, also testified in front of the senate’s committee, and detailed her allegations against him, which Kavanaugh assertively denied in his testimony.
Those who signed the petition said Kavanaugh’s temperament during the procedures is exactly what forced them to speak up. Those who wrote the letter to the Senate described Kavanaugh’s demeanor to be “intemperate”, “inflammatory”, “partial” and at times “discourteous."
“This is such an extreme version. We all saw that happen. People across the country saw that happen. If the message is that somebody like that is fine on the Supreme Court, I think we’ve demeaned the institution,” said Jennifer Bird-Pollan, a UK professor law. “I think the Supreme Court is an incredibly important institution… and I think as a professor of law and as a lawyer, one of my jobs is to do what I can to help protect the legal system.”
While it was only UK College of Law professors Jennifer Bird-Pollan, Mary Davis, James Donovan, Joshua Douglas, Michael Healy, Diana Kraft and Courtney Lollar who signed the letter, there’s likely more who would’ve liked to pen their names as well.
“Actually several of my colleagues, after they saw my name on the list, emailed me to ask how to sign it,” said Bird-Pollan. “Even though there are only fewer than 10 of us who signed it in the end, there are more in the UK law faculty who would have signed the letter had they known about it earlier.”
While some of those who signed the letter admit that they might not agree with Kavanaugh’s judicial prudence, they say it wasn't their stances on the issues, or the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, that moved them to sign their names.
“Normally law professors wouldn’t collectively oppose a nominee just based on ideology. The president generally should be able to nominate who he or she wants so long as the person is well qualified. This nomination— and in particular Judge Kavanaugh’s demeanor in response to the allegations— made it different,” said professor of law Joshua Douglas.
Bird-Pollan said that while she may not agree with some of the standing jurists on the Supreme Court, she thinks their presence reinforces the legitimacy of the court “even if I don’t like their decisions.” She didn’t feel the same about Kavanaugh’s potential appointment.
Friday, the Senate narrowly voted to cut off debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination and move to a final vote in the coming days. UK’s law professors say that no matter the outcome of the vote, there’s a potential the decision could affect UK.
“I’m at least hopeful that the effect will be much greater voter participation— especially among young people— this November and beyond,” said Douglas. “Perhaps this process will help to show all voters how important it is to participate at the ballot box.”