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Pacific Northwest professors sign on to letter asking Senate to not confirm Kavanaugh

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

Eight Gonzaga law school professors are among the more than 2,400 signatories to a letter to the U.S. Senate asking the body not to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The letter, which included professors of law from across the nation, appeared in the New York Times opinion section Thursday. The letter states that, during last week’s hearings, Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament, which disqualifies him from any court, especially the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has been accused by three women of sexual misconduct while he was a student at Yale and Georgetown Preparatory, an elite Jesuit high school.

In his senate testimony last week, Kavanaugh denied the accusations. His principal accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said she was 100 percent sure he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

The letter, which was also signed by eight University of Idaho law professors and 16 University of Washington professors, stated that federal law requires judges to recuse themselves when there is a perception of bias or unfairness. Kavanaugh’s behavior during the hearing, such as calling the accusations an “orchestrated political hit” and interrupting senators questioning him, fell short of what is required of those who serve on the Supreme Court, the letter asserts.

Gonzaga law professors Ann Murphy, Jane Korn and Mary Pat Treauthart said they found Kavanaugh’s anger and response to senators’ questions troubling. Murphy said his partisan response to Ford’s allegations and mischaracterization of the contents of his own high school yearbook should disqualify him from a seat on the Supreme Court.

“If you appear before congress and lie, you’re out, and I really wish the senators felt that way,” she said.

She said judges do lean left and right, but in general, the Supreme Court should be above politics. Justices who have weighed in on issues and candidates in the past, such as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, faced criticism from the law community for their comments. Kavanaugh’s testimony was a disturbing and disrespectful break from judicial norms, she said.

“It won’t reflect well on the Supreme Court,” she said. “It will take years to get over this.”

All three of the law professors who spoke to The Spokesman-Review said they signed the letter and spoke out in a personal capacity and were not representing Gonzaga with their comments.

The letter was sent to the Senate Majority leader Set. Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. McConnel scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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