9 ASU law professors sign letter against confirming Kavanaugh

One day before his confirmation vote, a letter questions his judicial temperament

Nine ASU law professors joined with over 1,500 others in signing a letter that said Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh did not have the temperament needed for the position on the eve of a floor vote of his confirmation. 

According to the New York Times, which published the letter on Wednesday, the letter will be presented to the Senate today, as the nomination process finally appears to be coming to a close.

On Wednesday, only four ASU professors had signed the letter, but at the time of publication that number has grown to nine. The ASU professors who signed are Paul Bender, Bijal Shah, Charles Calleros, Orde Kittrie, Daniel Bodansky, Alyssa Dragnich, David Kader, Joshua Sellers and Justin Weinstein-Tull.

The letter was followed by concessions Thursday morning by key Senate votes, including Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who vied for the FBI investigation last week, postponing the vote until now. He said the investigation was thorough and that no more corroborating information on the allegations had come forward, clearing a way forward for the embattled nominee. 

Read More: Flake's vote on Kavanaugh embodies Arizona's influence on the highest court

The confirmation process has been mired in controversy, with multiple women coming forward to allege various claims of sexual harassment and assault and testimonies by both Kavanaugh and one of the first accusers to come forward, Christine Blasey Ford. 

It was his testimony in the most recent hearing that law professors from across America said disqualifies him for the high court. 

"We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land," the letter read.

Paul Bender, who is an expert on constitutional law and one of the nine professors from ASU, said on Friday that regardless of the results of the FBI investigation, the temperament shown by Kavanaugh in his testimony following Christine Blasey Ford's allegations showed an unfitness to serve.

“I was appalled by his temper tantrum,” Bender said. “And not only the temper tantrum but the political nature of it — the accusing the other side of a conspiracy for political reasons to kill this nomination — that the other side was not acting honestly.” 

Bender said that it was a pivotal moment for the future of the judiciary in America. 

“It also scares me because it tells me that he may be making decisions because the president wants him to or that the political party that he’s working for wants him to, and I don’t think someone who does things for those reasons should be on the court,” he said. 

The temperament is a concern for Bender not only in this process, but in Kavanaugh's current role as a judge on the D.C. Circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals. 

“You want all federal judges … to decide cases according to what they think about the case at the time it is before them, independently of what their party wants or what the president wants,” he said. “If you have people who get on the bench because they promise to decide things one way or another, the judges just lose their function — their function to do not what the people want them to do, or what Congress wants them to do or what the president wants them to do, but what the law tells them to do.” 

The letter continued to gain signatures according to the Times, but it is unclear if the letter will have any bearing on the final vote — which is slated to happen Friday

Two Republicans and the White House shared their satisfaction with the FBI probe, while Democrats continued to call the process incomplete.


Despite the decreasing odds that the nomination will be hindered, the professors made clear that they were not supportive of the confirmation. 

“We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh, but 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,” states the letter.


 Reach the reporter at isaac.windes@asu.edu or follow @isaacdwindes on Twitter.

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