June 20, 2019 | 75° F

Rutgers law professor joins others in signing letter opposed to Kavanaugh confirmation

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John Leubsdorf, a professor at the Rutgers Law School in Newark, cosigned the letter alongside 2,400 law professors who opposed the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He said he is concerned with Kavanaugh’s temperament. 

Earlier this month, a letter containing more than 2,400 signatures from law professors across the country opposing Supreme Court Justice Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation was sent to the Supreme Court. Among the signatures was that of John Leubsdorf, a professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark. 

“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," according to a letter published in The New York Times. 

Kavanaugh was caucused into the Supreme Court on a 50-48 vote after a limited FBI investigation following his hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a woman that accused him of sexual misconduct, according to The New York Times

Leubsdorf said the letter was written in broad terms and focuses on Kavanaugh's temperament and behavior at the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as his response to Ford's testimony on an alleged sexual assault from Kavanaugh dating back to high school. 

After seeing Kavanaugh’s performance before the senate, Leubsdorf said he decided to co-sign the letter.

“This idea of a conspiracy from the Clintons against him, the obvious anger and resentment, the blatant misstatements that he made about various things and his response to some of the questions," he said. "All of these things showed me that he did not have the character of someone who should be on the Supreme Court.” 

In regard to the two testimonies, Leubsdorf said he believes Kavanaugh has a credibility problem. 

He said that what he saw as mischaracterizations and an inability to stay on message, were what led him to believe Kavanaugh cannot be trusted for the job.         

“One of them must not be correct, and personally I think it’s him," Leubsdorf said. "She has no reason to misrepresent this and he has every reason in the world to lie. So on the whole, I believe her over him.”

Leubsdorf said that he cannot give his full thoughts on the FBI investigation into the claims, as only a few people have actually seen the report that the FBI produced days before the confirmation vote. 

“Many factors from the investigation have not been seen through, like questions about Justice Kavanaugh’s drinking habits," he said. "I’m not saying that drinking is disqualifying for a position like this, but his reluctance to be truthful about it definitely says something about his credibility.” 

Before Kavanaugh’s nomination, a concern among certain activists was how a new Supreme Court Justice would affect Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that allowed abortion to be legal in the United States. Leubsdorf did not predict whether the decision would be overruled by the current Supreme Court, but said that many states, such as Texas and Mississippi, already have ways around providing abortions by state laws. 

He said states that have laws that allow clinics to be closed are a more imminent threat to reproductive rights as of now than an overturning of Roe v. Wade.

When it comes to cases involving sexual assault, most cases do not make it to the Supreme Court as most are settled at the state level, he said.

Leubsdorf said the nature and circumstance of cases involving sexual assualt that make it to the Supreme Court should be considered when deciding whether Kavanaugh should recuse himself from judging the case. 

He also said his overall concern with Kavanaugh is his temperament and what he said is an inability to be impartial. 

“When it comes to the Supreme Court, no one justice is just ‘a drop in the bucket’ because this is a bucket with only nine drops.” he said. “One vote is enough to make a difference, so I do think it is something to worry about.”

Jacob Turchi

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