‘In the middle of a national emergency’: Law students strike in opposition to Kavanaugh

"How can we put our faith into someone about big decisions that will impact our communities for the rest of our lives when he lied about the little things?"

Students on strike against Kavanaugh. CREDIT: Alex Petkanas
Students on strike against Kavanaugh. CREDIT: Alex Petkanas

Law students are going on strike for three days beginning on Wednesday to demand that anyone who wants to be elected to Congress commit to impeaching Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was sworn in to the highest court in the land on Saturday after multiple women made allegations of sexual assault against him.

The students participating in the strike go to over 20 different law schools, organizers tell ThinkProgress, including NYU Law, Brooklyn Law School, Cardozo Law School, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and University of Miami School of Law. Students who are not studying law have also decided to participate, such as students from Silberman School of Social Work and Georgia Tech. The strike officially begins at 2:15 p.m. ET.

In an open letter sent on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which emphasized the “ongoing harm indigenous people have suffered under the American legal system,” students wrote:

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 addition to the strike, and rallies and protests, the organizers urge people to write to candidates in their district and share information about the strike on social media. Groups that have officially endorsed the strike include the National Lawyers Guild, New York City Young Democratic Socialists of America, Snohomish County Democratic Socialists of America, Brooklyn Law School ACLU, and NYU Law Women of Color Collective.

Alex Petkanas, a student at Brooklyn Law School, who is part of the National Lawyers Guild’s Brooklyn Law School chapter, said the idea began in the days leading up to the confirmation when students were at a National Lawyers Guild conference with other New York City chapters. The day they learned that he would be confirmed, they immediately began discussing possible actions and eventually decided on the strike.


Petkanas said, “It is essential that those candidates who were vocally opposed to Kavanaugh leading up to his confirmation do not move on and accept this, and instead commit to seeking impeachment.”

They mentioned that Mal Hyman, a Democrat who is running against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in 2020, has already endorsed the strike.

Jordan Coyne, a student at Cardozo Law who is a member of the Cardozo National Lawyers Guild, told ThinkProgress she is coordinating with other schools where students are striking. Students have been “plastering the school with advertisements,” writing on whiteboards, putting up flyers, and posting on social media to get the word out, Coyne said. NYU students and Cardozo students began the afternoon by meeting outside of the Cardozo Law School. All New York City-based law students will then meet up at Washington Square Park and kick off the strike with a rally.


Coyne isn’t sure what the plans are for the next two days as students are still in the process of making decisions about the rest of the week. Some students may not be outside participating in the strike, Coyne said.

“We recognize that folks have different levels of involvement,” she said. “I have gotten emails from students worried about repercussions from walking out of class and so for them we’re trying to set up some events or phone banking and letter writing campaigns.”

Petkanas said Miami Law also planned an event on campus with some of the law professors who signed a New York Times op-ed against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In total, over 2,400 law professors signed the op-ed published last week.


Coyne said of the confirmation process, “This is a pristine example of what white male privilege looks like. I highly doubt any other person of a different population or demographic could have gotten up there, yelled at senators, asked senators if they blacked out, said I like beer, cried and been a rollercoaster of emotions, and still have gotten the job.”

She added that she thought the FBI investigation, which failed to interview key witnesses, was also woefully inadequate.

I think it felt like a foregone conclusion when Sen. Flake voted to advance to move the vote to the floor with the asterisk of pending an FBI investigation. It really just felt like it was a pacifier for him to be like ‘I tried my best’ but he hasn’t actually done anything.”

Students protest Kavanaugh confirmation in New York, NY. CREDIT: Courtesy of Alex Petkanas
Students protest Kavanaugh confirmation in New York, NY. CREDIT: Courtesy of Alex Petkanas

Petkanas said that Kavanaugh’s “repeated lies under oath” and “sham of an investigation” were the parts of the confirmation process that made them angriest. Kavanaugh did repeatedly lie or mislead on issues big and small when he was questioned by senators last month. The FBI investigation was clearly doomed from the start, since Trump’s White House counsel, Don McGahn, took the lead in overseeing it, despite his being behind efforts to get Kavanaugh confirmed. 

“How can we put our faith into someone about big decisions that will impact our communities for the rest of our lives when he lied about the little things?” they said.