Yale Community Divided Over Graduate Kavanaugh's Supreme Court Nomination

Jul 11, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court has received mixed reaction at his alma mater. Yale Law School released a statement Monday, with praise from current Yale professors and administrators.

One of those professors is Akhil Reed Amar, who taught Kavanaugh at Yale. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, entitled “A Liberal’s Case for Brett Kavanaugh.”

Amar, who supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, said “it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh.” The only exceptions, he said, are the current justices and President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Meanwhile, more than 200 members of the Yale Law School community have signed an open letter opposing Kavanaugh, citing his views on abortion, executive power, health care, and education.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination presents an emergency — for democratic life, for our safety and freedom, for the future of our country,” the letter says.

It also criticized Yale's praise of Kavanaugh.

"Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?” they ask. “Perhaps you, as an institution and as individuals, will benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendent power if you withhold your support. Perhaps Judge Kavanaugh will be less likely to hire your favorite students.”

If confirmed, Kavanaugh would join three other Yale graduates on the bench. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor all graduated in the 1970s.

“It’s Harvard and Yale on the Supreme Court and in this day and age, you’d expect more diversity -- not just another white guy from Yale,” said Leslie Blatteau, a teacher and community activist.

She was part of a rally outside the federal courthouse in New Haven Tuesday evening. Protesters were speaking out against Kavanaugh’s nomination, and in support of abortion rights.

Sarah Croucher, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, said she's concerned about the future of Roe v. Wade with Kavanaugh on the Court.

“He’s someone who clearly does not stand up for the rights of individual people to make their own decisions about their bodies,” she said, “about their lives, to be protected from violence, to lead safe lives, to lead lives where they can access health care, and those are the things that we care about.”

Both of Connecticut’s U.S. senators have said they’ll vote against Kavanaugh. In addition to concerns over abortion rights, Senator Chris Murphy said the nominee has previously written about the Affordable Care Act, and questioned the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

Jesus Garzon and Harriet Jones contributed to this report.