President Trump’s new pick for the Supreme Court is drawing strong condemnation in the form of an open letter signed by nearly 600 current and former Yale Law School students and professors who contend that "people will die" if Washington, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh ascends to the nation's highest court.
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Kavanaugh, a Yale alum, was praised in a glowing endorsement published by Dean Heather Gerken and other Yale professors following his nomination. The open letter directly criticizes that press release.
It goes on to strongly critique Kavanaugh's judicial record, describing him as an "intellectually and morally bankrupt ideologue".
The letter ends with strong criticism of Yale Law School and its influence on the federal judiciary.
"Perhaps you, as an institution and as individuals, will benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendent power if you withhold your support," it reads. "Perhaps Judge Kavanaugh will be less likely to hire your favorite students ... We hope you agree your sacrifice would be worth it."
Former Supreme Court clerks themselves, the faculty members quoted in the official Yale press release praising Kavanaugh are known for their influence in helping students secure Supreme Court clerkships.
"Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?" the opposition's letter asks.
"Now is the time for moral courage — which for Yale Law School comes at so little cost," the letter opposing Kavanaugh's appointment reads. "Perhaps you, as an institution and as individuals, will benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendent [sic] power if you withhold your support. Perhaps Judge Kavanaugh will be less likely to hire your favorite students. But people will die if he is confirmed. We hope you agree your sacrifice would be worth it."
The initial press release in response to Kavanaugh’s nomination avoided specifics about his judicial decisions.
A counter-petition, signed by Yale students and alumni supporting Kavanaugh, has since started circulating, picking up more than 100 signatures using the same Google Form open letter format.
In similar fashion to the initial university press release reacting to Kavanaugh’s nomination, the counter-petition avoided specifics about his judicial decisions. Instead, both public expressions of support for Kavanaugh chose to focus on his elite credentials and personal character.
In a statement this week to ABC News, law school officials described that press release as routine.
“Yale Law School is a nonpartisan institution,” the statement reads. “We routinely acknowledge high-profile nominations of our alumni. We did exactly the same thing not so long ago when Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’79 received her nomination to the High Court.”