As of press time, about 40 UC Berkeley School of Law professors have signed a letter presented to the United States Senate on Thursday that argues Judge Brett Kavanaugh should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The letter, published in the New York Times opinion section, includes signatures from more than 2,400 law professors from across the country as of press time. The Senate is currently reviewing the FBI’s report that investigated sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh — it will begin voting on whether to confirm Kavanaugh on Friday.
While the law professors have differing views about Kavanaugh’s other qualifications, the letter said they are “united” in believing that during the Senate hearings Sept. 27, Kavanaugh did not display the “impartiality and judicial temperament” necessary to sit on the Supreme Court.
“I was very dismayed by the hearings and Kavanaugh’s demeanor,” said law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who signed the letter, in an email. “My hope is that the letter will help persuade Senators to vote no on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”
Chemerinsky said in a press release that he signed the letter “without hesitation” and that he thinks Kavanaugh lied many times during the hearing. He added that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, there will always be a “cloud over his confirmation” that will tarnish the Supreme Court.
The letter intends to appeal to about five senators whose vote may be swayed, according to Berkeley Law professor Christopher Kutz, who also signed the letter. He said Kavanaugh’s behavior is “not even remotely close” to what should be expected from any judge, let alone a Supreme Court justice.
“Regardless of a jurist’s legal views, a justice has to weigh issues and act fairly, rationally and respectfully,” said Berkeley Law professor Charles Weisselberg, who signed the letter, in an email. “I can understand that he is upset that claims against him have surfaced. Yet, for me, his performance was disqualifying.”
Berkeley Law students, as well as professors, have been responding to the Kavanaugh hearings.
Berkeley Law student Benjamin Phillips said he is “really appreciative” that Chemerinsky signed the letter, adding that he was “disturbed” by Kavanaugh’s response to the sexual misconduct allegations and that Kavanaugh’s partisan attacks will “degrade the credibility” of the Supreme Court.
The Kavanaugh hearings have been discussed at least once in all of Berkeley Law student Savelle Jefferson’s classes, he said. While Jefferson said he doubts the letter will have an effect on the confirmation process, he agrees that Kavanaugh lacked professionalism during the hearing.
“Regardless of what you think about the underlying allegations of sexual misconduct, … he has demonstrated that he will not be candid and truthful in testimony,” Kutz said. “The display of rage and extreme partisan tone of his language makes him untrustworthy as Supreme Court Justice.”