Six at MU join list of law professors opposing Kavanaugh's confirmation

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Six MU law professors joined at least 2,400 others Thursday in adding their names to a letter objecting to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

The letter, “The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh,” was published in The New York Times on Wednesday with fewer than 1,000 names. It has since added the names of nearly 1,500 more law professors nationwide. The letter was to be delivered to the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

The MU law professors added their names to the document to declare that they are “united in believing that (Kavanaugh) did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.”

The professors include R. Lawrence Dessem, the Timothy Heinsz professor of law at MU; Randy Diamond, professor of legal research; John Lande, Isidor Loeb professor emeritus; S. David Mitchell, associate dean for academic affairs and Ruth L. Hulston professor of law; Rigel Oliveri, Isabelle Wade and Paul C. Lyda professor of law; and Richard Reuben, James Lewis Parks professor of law.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, five law professors from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and at least a dozen from Washington University in St. Louis had signed the letter.

“The reason for the letter was the concern that any reasonable person would have for the impartiality of the U.S. Supreme Court when you’ve got somebody up there, by his own words, expressly partisan,” Reuben said in an interview.

A round of Senate voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation is expected Friday, with the final vote likely on Saturday.

The confirmation process was relatively uneventful until last week, when Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. Afterward, Kavanaugh gave his rebuttal, which has been described as a “blistering denial” of her allegations.

The process was extended after Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, asked for an FBI investigation, which was concluded Wednesday. Senators were briefed on the findings Thursday.

The letter in The New York Times, which has been prominent on the newspaper’s website as signatures from law professors accumulated, takes particular issue with Kavanaugh’s judicial temperament, noting that a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.”

Saying they regretted the compulsion to draft the letter, the legal scholars said that “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.”

Reuben said the disqualifier is Kavanaugh’s demonstrated lack of impartiality: “He made it a process of us versus them.”

In any normal era, Reuben said, the judge would have withdrawn his nomination rather than damage the court.

Kavanaugh has “made it very clear that he has a very particular point of view that he wants to impose on the court and who his friends are and who his enemies are,” Reuben said. “That’s just not a qualty you’re looking for in a judge, much less a judge of the highest court.

“You want a judge with an open mind.”

Reuben said that for some reason, the MU School of Law never received a copy of the original invitation to sign the letter.

“I’ve never felt less relevant in my life,” he said. “So I literally had to chase down the organizer to find out who organized the letter.”

Reuben sent an email to the organizer Wednesday night and was told he and any MU colleagues could still sign.

“I would have been ashamed as a law professor to not have my name on that list.”

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