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Boyd Professors Join Peers In Effort To Derail Kavanaugh Nomination

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 27.

An associate dean and 14 professors at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law joined nearly 2,500 of their peers from around the country in an open letter opposing Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The letter, published in the New York Times, says Kavanaugh’s combative testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 showed he lacks the judicial temperament to sit on the high court. It does not deal with the allegations of improper behavior when Kavanaugh was a young man.

It reads, in part, “ Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.”

The signatories from Boyd were: Sara Gordon, associate dean for academic affairs; Assistant Professor Chelsea Baldwin, Professor Mary Beth Beazley; Professor Stewart Chang; Associate Professor Benjamin Edwards; Professor Ruben Garcia; Professor Michael Kagan; Professor Francine Lipman; Professor Elizabeth MacDowell; Professor Ann McGinley; Professor Terrill Pollman; Professor Addie Rolnick; Professor Jeffrey Stempel; Professor Jean Sternlight; and Professor David Tanehaus.

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Associate Dean Sara Gordon said the letter is not about the allegations leveled against Judge Kavanaugh but his response to those allegations.

“Confirmation hearings are both a test of a potential justices’ qualifications but also their judicial temperament," she said, "Their ability to serve on the court in an impartial manner.”

Gordon said Kavanaugh's testimony was angry, disrespectful and inconsistent.

“I was personally both surprised and troubled by Judge Kavanaugh’s demeanor during his testimony,” she said.

Gordon pointed out that Kavanaugh himself has talked about the importance of impartiality on the bench and that a judge should not be swayed by political leanings.

“I don’t think Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior during his confirmation hearings evidences his ability to have that judicial temperament if he were to be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” she said.

The impartiality is important she said not just for the people involved in the case but also for the public's confidence in the court system. Gordon said Kavanaugh's resistance to answering basic questions suggests partisanship that isn't appropriate for the Supreme Court. 

“I think Judge Kavanaugh’s response to questions suggests that he feels entitled to this position on the Supreme Court,” she said.

Professor Ann McGinley agreed that his demeanor during the hearing was troubling.

“Frankly, he was incredibly political in his reaction and I think that he should not be," she said, "There are going to be cases that are political that are going to come up to the Supreme Court and the question is how is he going to handle those?”

She pointed to his mentioning of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and a left-wing conspiracy during his response to the Senate committee as examples of a political reaction.

“If he does that on the Supreme Court, what kind of relationship will the court members have with him and also what kind of relationship will the court have with the public,” she said.

McGinley said she didn't have an opinion about Kavanaugh before the hearing on the allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. He had a good reputation and great qualifications as a judge.

But after the hearing, in which McGinley felt Kavanaugh was giving a "temper tantrum" of sorts, her opinion changed. She doesn't believe he was telling the truth.

“We don’t want justices to either commit perjury or at least not to tell the truth when they are testifying under oath and that’s just totally against our system,” she said.

Although McGinley signed the letter, she is not entirely sure it will change minds in the Senate but she still feels it was important to give an opinion.

Guests

Sara Gordon; associate dean, Boyd Law School; Ann McGinley, professor, Boyd Law School

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