After numerous protests and public outcry by Harvard Law School students over the past couple of weeks, university administrators stated in a mass email Monday that Brett Kavanaugh would not be returning in January 2019 to teach his “Supreme Court Since 2005” course at the university. But, for many students, that’s not enough.
“I don’t think anyone here is satisfied, as in we reached an end goal. Because we haven’t,” said Harvard Law School student Jake Meiseles, who co-wrote an op-ed in The Harvard Law Record last month, in which he and three other students called for an investigation into the allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted multiple women.
“The end result is to not have someone with credible allegations that have not been investigated be in a position of influencing people’s lives,” he added.
According to The Harvard Crimson, Associate Dean and Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs Catherine Claypoole told students in the email Monday evening that “Judge Kavanaugh indicated that he can no longer commit to teaching his course … so the course will not be offered.”
The email suggests that Kavanaugh withdrew from his position, not that Harvard fired him. An open alumni letter calling on Harvard to rescind Kavanaugh’s lecturer appointment has garnered more than 860 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
“As of writing, it appears that Kavanaugh will no longer be teaching at HLS, likely from the pressure exerted by alumni and students,” wrote Jessica Lynn Corsi, a Harvard alumni who organized the letter, in The Harvard Law Record Tuesday. “And yet, we haven’t seen an official statement from the Law School confirming this. We are continuing to ask HLS to show moral courage and officially rescind his appointment.”
Harvard Law School did not immediately return ThinkProgress’ request for comment.
The email announcement that Kavanaugh would no longer teach at the university came several weeks after Meiseles and three other students drafted the op-ed, arguing that “Unless a full and fair investigation is conducted, Harvard Law School cannot allow Kavanaugh to continue teaching its students and the Senate cannot confirm him to the Supreme Court.”
“We heard absolutely nothing” after the op-ed was published, said Meiseles, adding that, in addition to the op-ed, hundreds of students wrote emails to Harvard Law School Dean John Manning and took part in protests across campus.
This silence was “striking,” he said, especially considering the fact that Manning had initially publicly congratulated Kavanaugh when the nomination was first announced over the summer.
“I think that just asking for there to be an investigation, for there to be proper process is exactly what, as a law school, we should be advocating for,” Meiseles said, adding that the dean of Yale Law School had done as much when she issued a statement last month stressing the “importance of fair process.”
Kavanaugh’s withdrawal from the course is “a victory because students no longer have to, especially women, no longer have to self-select out of that class,” Meiseles said. “But, I mean, it’s disappointing in the sense of… we weren’t calling for anyone to pre-judge him, what we want to know is the truth. And it seems like Judge Kavanaugh doesn’t want the truth to be out there.”
Sejal Singh, a Harvard law student who co-wrote the op-ed, agreed, telling ThinkProgress in an email that, while she’s glad Kavanaugh will no longer be teaching, “I do think it’s important for the school to take a strong stand for a full, fair investigation into the very serious allegations of sexual misconduct against him. For example, sixty Yale Law faculty members submitted an open letter calling for a fair, nonpartisan, deliberative investigation into these allegations. Many Harvard students are disappointed that a similar letter has not been issued by our own faculty…”
Meiseles said he and other student activists plan to continue pressuring university administrators to advocate for a fair process, especially given the White House’s and the Senate’s initial reluctance to call for an FBI investigation and their efforts to impede the process by limiting the investigation’s scope.
“Many of us organizers are people who came to law school to try to make this country and this world a more just place,” Meiseles said. “You look in the courts in this country everyday and people are sent to prison for similar conduct based on someone alleging something that they did and people are thrown into prison in this country, black and brown people … with an utter lack of process.”
“Judge Kavanaugh has been a part of eroding that process,” he added, referring to the judge’s proclivity to an overly punitive criminal justice system. “Of course, this isn’t a criminal matter, but to insist on this highest level of innocence for him and to insist that he not face any sort of process, when at the same time he’s been okay with people going to prison for years and years and years … I think it just goes to the level of injustice that is in this country right now.”