Sunday, September 22

UCLA School of Law students and faculty stage protest against Kavanaugh


Law students and faculty left their classes early Thursday in protest of the Supreme Court confirmation vote on Brett Kavanaugh and denounced the law school dean's email to them as inappropriate. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin staff)

Law students and faculty left their classes early Thursday in protest of the Supreme Court confirmation vote on Brett Kavanaugh and denounced the law school dean's email to them as inappropriate. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin staff)



Correction: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated the protest was staged against the potential confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as well as the dean’s email. In fact, the protest was staged to protest the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

This post was updated 6:39 p.m.

UCLA School of Law students and faculty staged a walkout to protest the possible confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault. Students also protested against an email sent by the law school’s dean.

Almost 100 law students and faculty walked out of class onto Shapiro Courtyard on Thursday to protest Kavanaugh, a current judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Last month, Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of his confirmation hearing. Two other women have also accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process.

The law school protestors also denounced an email law school Dean Jennifer Mnookin sent to students and staff.

In the email, Mnookin said she believed Ford’s testimony and opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but also said she questioned the accuracy of traumatic memory recall in general.

“I also think it’s highly likely that her clear and focused memory of the identity of her attackers is accurate,” Mnookin said in her letter. “At the same time, as a scholar who works in part on issues of wrongful convictions, I recognize the possibility that victims can have sincere but erroneous memories, even about traumatic events.”

The National Lawyers Guild at UCLA, a law student organization on campus, planned the walkout and was inspired by similar student protests at Yale University, Kavanaugh’s alma mater, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Maryam Abidi, a National Lawyers Guild board member and law student, said she thinks Mnookin was playing both sides of the aisle in addressing Kavanaugh.

“She brings up the specter of wrongful convictions,” Abidi said. “(Kavanaugh) is not going through criminal proceedings. He will not deal with the collateral consequences of a conviction.”

Protesters dressed in black and discussed the impact of sexual assault on their own lives during an open mic session.

Asheeka Desai, a law student and survivor of sexual assault, said at the open mic she was retraumatized by the process and thinks the justice system fails to adequately handle sexual assault cases.

“I’ve been reminded that from the time someone is violated and they try to seek justice, these institutions will fail us,” Desai said.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, a UCLA law professor, said he ended his class early to attend the walkout. He said he could not continue teaching because of his own experiences adjudicating campus sexual assaults cases. He added he believed the stories of sexual assault from students and Ford.

“I’ve witnessed and adjudicated sexual assault after sexual assault,” Abou El Fadl said. “It breaks you as a human being.”

Hadley Morris, a law student and NLG board member, said she believes Kavanaugh’s accusers are telling the truth.

“It takes a lot of courage to (speak out), whatever your experience is in a situation of assault or violence or where your personal safety or dignity is being taken away from you,” Morris said. “Nobody does that lightly, nobody does that flippantly.”

In response to Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, more than 2,400 law professors, including 47 from UCLA, signed a letter to the Senate on Thursday criticizing Kavanaugh’s conduct in his testimony and opposing his confirmation.

Jon Michaels, a UCLA law professor who signed the letter, said he thinks Kavanaugh’s conduct in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee threatens to undermine the integrity of the Supreme Court. He also said he thinks Kavanaugh’s rudeness towards senators during the confirmation process was completely inappropriate. Abou El Fadl also signed the letter.

“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,” the signatories said in the letter. “We are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.”

The UCLA branch of the Student Bar Association, along with 43 other branches across the nation, also sent a letter Tuesday to the Senate majority and minority leaders requesting the Senate refrain from voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation before the FBI is allowed to conduct a more thorough investigation than the one ordered by the Senate.

Luis Vasquez, the UCLA Student Bar Association president and law student, said he signed the letter because he did not think the FBI investigation was thorough enough.

“With us the question isn’t really about whether or not there should be an FBI investigation, but rather we want to make sure that there is a meaningful one,” Vasquez said. “And part of that includes making sure that every possible witness is actually interviewed.”

The FBI completed the investigation into the allegations Wednesday, but has not released the results to the public.

“I hope that in bringing these allegations against (Kavanaugh) into the public eye we make it known that we as a community in the country – and as a legal community – that we’re not okay with this sort of behavior,” Morris said.

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Senior staff photojournalist

Jintak Han is a senior staff photojournalist for the Daily Bruin. He photographs anything that needs to be photographed and writes for the City & Crime beat. He previously served as the 2016-2017 Assistant Photo editor.


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  • Nordonia Nate

    Too funny… Law students and faculty stage protest against Kavanaugh.. Wonder IF the law students passed the semester where they discussed Constitutional guarantees? Quite frankly, I hope and pray that each of these students protesting has to go through everything Judge Kavanaugh went through.. I mean, it’s only fair…

    Regarding the faculty… I bet this is some kind of easy head rush knowing that you messed with these kids minds.. Good job!

    What’s all that HATE get ya?

  • LiberalsAreSensitiveBeings

    What a shame that one of our nation’s top law schools would ignore a fundamental, Constitutional guarantee: the presumption of innocence. Why?

    Liberal’s don’t care about the Constitution when it hurts their political position.

    Republicans care about the Constitution, even if it hurts their political position.

    • mike oxhard

      >Republicans care about the Constitution, even if it hurts their political position
      Right…by the way, are you familiar with how Senate Republicans handled their Constitutional job to ‘advise and consent’ when it came to Garland’s nomination?

      • Nordonia Nate

        Show what law was violated. The Republicans chose not to hold SC confirmation hearings on a choice from the leaving President. Had NOTHING TO DO WITH US CONSTITUTION. Wasn’t it Joe Biden … back in 1992 that stated no outgoing president should not name a nominee until after the November election if a SC vacancy becomes available… as it had with Garland.

        Given the exact, same opportunity… with a Dem seated president.. The Dems would have done the very same thing…. Therefore… Please point to the “advise and consent” violation.

        • mike oxhard

          You have misunderstood the point of my original comment. I never stated Senate Republicans broke a codified law. I simply pointed out that in 2016, they failed to act on their duty to advise and consent on presidential nominations, as delineated in Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution, in what seemed to be an attempt at advancing their political agenda via the courts.

          Additionally, I did not claim a Democratic Senate would have acted differently if control were reversed. My first comment took issue with the idea that only one party “cares about the Constitution, even if it hurts their political position”. You only need to follow politics for one election cycle to know both parties will push limits whenever possible.

          • Nordonia Nate

            The neat thing about the US Constitution… Especially Article ii, section 2.. In the case of Merrick Garland, there were at least two issues in play… 1. Obama wanted to make a statement before leaving. He was well aware of the outcome, but he knew he had to make the political move. Obama used Merrick Garland and he will be alwaysv remembered as the pawn Obama sacrificed. And, quite frankly, I didn’t think McConnell had the cherries to say no..

            Yeah, I know … Both parties like to push the limits… Ask Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh..

  • garyfouse

    Wow. Where does one start? I could remind the LAW SCHOOL students and their faculty professors that in the US, accusations require proof. Even in a civil case, you need a preponderance of evidence (51%). The accusations against Kavanaugh never even reached that bar.

    You might also have more accurately described the National Lawyers Guild, which was founded in the 1930s as a legal arm of the Communist party USA. Since that time, they continue to jump on every band wagen that makes the US look bad.

    Professor Michaels might think that Kavanaugh’s belligerent and angry attitude when he responded to the accusations was inappropriate. Agreed, it was not pretty. How many of us would maintain our judicial temperament when our careers, families, and lives were being destroyed in the public arena?

    And before Dr El Fadl complains about how US law treats female victims, he might examine his own sharia law, which, among other niceties, requires 4 male witnesses to support a woman’s claim of rape. Absent those, the women is charged with adultery and subject to 80 lashes.

    It is hardly surprising that those in a university would ignore our basic legal principles. That this comes from a law school is really depressing.

    • Observant_One

      Amen.

  • SinPatron

    This was all smoke and mirrors to get the eyes of the world off trump. NY times dropped the most damaging piece yet. They had the numbers to confirm no matter. Is RBG drinking from the fountain of youth…. let’s hope so.

    • Nordonia Nate

      Your post is factually incorrect. THIS was an example of the extremes Dems will go to for power. RBG truly had no business serving on the SC and should resign … Maybe she can actually move to NZ as she had suggested

  • Observant_One

    Typical liberal spasm that occurs at UCLA when they have no clue about the reality of life. Shame on you all of you!