Students from more than 30 law schools began a series of walkouts yesterday to protest the US Senate’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice. The walkout is expected to be a three-day action that concludes tomorrow. Many are wearing black in support of survivors of sexual assault or abuse. Dozens of organizations and universities are endorsing the protest.
Triggered by Brooklyn Law School students, the campaign demands that “anyone seeking to be elected to Congress in November commits to impeaching Kavanaugh to protect any semblance of rule of law and the people of our communities.”
The Strike Against Kavanaugh Organizing Committee begins its open letter this way:
We are in the middle of a national emergency. Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed to the Supreme Court. We cannot accept a system that empowers a man who repeatedly lied under oath and a judiciary review process that only performs a sham of an investigation into his misconduct. We do not recognize Kavanaugh as a legitimate member of the United States Supreme Court.
In related news, #webelievesurvivors now has its own website: brettkavanugh.com (Kavanaugh’s support team forgot to register the domain name).
The Chronicle article reviews protests that preceded this one, including this letter signed by more than 2,400 law professors. One of the Brooklyn Law School’s National Lawyers Guild student organizers, Justine Medina, told the Chronicle how this protest is different.
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“Law students are particularly situated to speak about this issue,” Medina said. They are aware of the effects of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, she said, and their proximity to power lends an obligation to defend the legal system’s norms, checks, and balances.
“We’ve had a lot of protests in the past couple of years in response to Trump, which is very exciting,” Medina said. “But they’re starting to become normalized” as people head out to protest before and after work, and on the weekends. “We wanted to do something that would actually disrupt,” she said.
Law school students are going beyond the walkout to make their case known, including phone banks and letter-writing campaigns. As NPQ has noted, there are many ways to participate.
Because the strength of a narrative is in its retelling by the many in all circumstances where it applies. Each of us is an agent in this struggle for a more equitable voice and place in this democracy. That is how democracy sustains and reforms. That is us.
Shortly before the Senate vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Robert Post, Sterling professor at Yale Law School, powerfully summed up the reason why Yale students and many other law students across the country have acted to resist this “black-robed embodiment of raw partisan power inconsistent with any ideal of an impartial judiciary.”
For as long as Kavanaugh sits on the court, he will remain a symbol of partisan anger, a haunting reminder that behind the smiling face of judicial benevolence lies the force of an urgent will to power. No one who felt the force of that anger could possibly believe that Kavanaugh might actually be a detached and impartial judge. Each and every Republican who votes for Kavanaugh, therefore, effectively announces that they care more about controlling the Supreme Court than they do about the legitimacy of the court itself. There will be hell to pay.