Judge Brett Kavanaugh will not teach at Harvard Law School in the winter, as he was expected to do, the university announced Monday night in an email to law students.
“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 of the law school curriculum committee wrote in an email to students Monday night.
Hundreds of Harvard Law School graduates had signed a letter calling on the school to rescind Kavanaugh’s appointment as lecturer at the school, following sexual misconduct allegations against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
They had not sent the letter to the school’s dean as of Monday evening.
“People are coming together to say, ‘This isn’t the type of person we want teaching at Harvard Law,'” said Jessica Lynn Corsi, a law lecturer and 2010 graduate of the school. It’s an incredibly important job, she said, to shape the minds of students destined to become Supreme Court justices, legal scholars and other leaders.
More than 800 graduates have signed the letter in less than three days, but it’s not just the sheer number that carries weight, Corsi argued. “It’s the character and the work of the people that are signing on,” she said.
The letter to the school’s dean, John Manning, asked that Kavanaugh’s appointment as the Samuel Williston Lecturer on Law be rescinded and that he not be allowed to teach in the winter term, as had been planned.
“Now more than ever, HLS must send a clear message that it takes sexual violence seriously,” they wrote. “The accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, including those by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, are credible and grave. They seriously call into question his character and morality, and should disqualify him from . . . any position of esteem, including lectureships at HLS.”
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied recent accusations that he engaged in misconduct when he was a teenager.
Mariel Goetz, a 2008 graduate, said that a powerful institution like Harvard Law School should be a leader on this issue. The lectureships at the school are prestigious – not something that people are entitled to, she said. “It’s perfectly appropriate, and the right thing to do, to rescind this,” she said.
Goetz said the group will continue to gather signatures and press for Kavanaugh’s appointment to be rescinded.
A Harvard Law School spokeswoman shared a message from Manning sent to students Friday, saying these had been painful, difficult times for the nation and their community, with the battle over the Supreme Court confirmation bringing into sharp focus “questions about sexual assault, fair process, fitness and character for high office, the integrity of the political process, and more.” He acknowledged the urgency of the questions about the winter term course, and that many were unsatisfied with the answer that Harvard officials could not comment on personnel matters in particular cases.
“Still, I can provide you this assurance,” Manning wrote. “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.”
Harvard Law School student leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The Harvard Crimson has reported on activism on numerous fronts at the school: Harvard’s Undergraduate Council voted Sunday night to ask the university to investigate the allegations made against Kavanaugh before allowing the judge to teach a winter-term course at the law school – a vote taken before Monday’s announcement that the judge would not be teaching. And some law school students have held protests and plan to call voters to speak out against Kavanaugh.
Students and faculty at Yale Law School have also expressed concerns about Kavanaugh, both on campus in Connecticut and in Washington. Kavanaugh is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law.
Last week, Heather Gerken, the law school’s dean, called for further investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh, echoing the recommendation of the American Bar Association on Friday.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Susan Svrluga