George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School recently
announced Justice Brett Kavanaugh will teach a class during its summer term on
the creation of the Constitution.
Students will travel to Runnymede, England, the location
where Magna Carta was sealed more than 800 years ago.
Naturally, this led a student group from the undergraduate
university called Mason 4 Survivors to post an apoplectic petition on Change.org
demanding the school cut ties with Kavanaugh. Some of these students actually say
Kavanaugh’s hiring jeopardizes their safety and happiness.
Some members of the undergraduate university’s Faculty Senate are now calling for the school to independently investigate the claims of sexual assault leveled against Kavanaugh during his confirmation last fall. Apparently the work of the United States Senate and FBI—not to mention the countless news outlets that investigated these claims—was insufficient.
These professors are likely the same malcontents who
objected to the university’s decision to rename
the law school in honor of the late Justice Antonin Scalia back in
So far, university President Angel Cabrera has stood by the
law school’s decision—supported by the entire law school faculty—to offer this
out, “The students [at the law school], by the way, have agreed. The
students have signed up to this class.”
These calls to “Cancel Kavanaugh” or “Kick Kavanaugh Off
Campus” seek to weaponize the #MeToo movement for partisan purposes. Capitulating
to them would be a disservice to students at the law school.
I’m a graduate of the Scalia Law School, and I wish I had
the opportunity to take even a single course with any sitting Supreme Court justice. In addition to Kavanaugh,
students in recent years have had access to two sitting Supreme Court justices
as well as countless other federal and Virginia state court judges.
Justice Neil Gorsuch co-teaches two summer courses with his
former law clerk and Scalia Law professor Jamil Jaffer in Padua, Italy, on the
separation of powers and inter-branch conflicts in national security.
And just a few years ago, Justice Clarence Thomas taught a
seminar along with his former clerk and Scalia Law professor Neomi Rao on the
history and foundation of the administrative state. The class likely would have
continued had President Donald Trump not tapped Rao to head the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs, and then to be a judge on the powerful U.S.
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (filling the vacancy left when Kavanaugh joined
the Supreme Court).
The opportunity for students to learn from and interact with
top legal minds, and some of the most powerful judges in our country, is
I’m willing to bet it’s not just members of the Scalia Law
Federalist Society chapter who rushed to get into these classes. Indeed, I
checked with the law school, and the course coordinator confirmed that there
was a considerable amount of interest in Kavanaugh’s class. Students had to submit
an application for a spot, and the lucky few who have been selected will pay
$3,000 to cover travel and lodging, on top of their regular tuition.
Just as I
was skeptical of Senate Democrats quickly jumping to conclusions
when Dr. Christine Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they
were teenagers, I find these protests about Kavanaugh’s hiring equally dubious.
Sexual assault is a serious issue. Unfounded accusations of
sexual assault should not be manipulated for partisan purposes simply because
some people are unhappy that Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Comments on the Change.org petition, as well as during a recent
Board of Visitors meeting in which students were allowed to voice
their concerns, show the real motivation behind this movement. It can be summed
up as two things: (1) claims that students are not safe at George Mason
University, and (2) complaints about Trump, Republicans, and Kavanaugh’s
Revealingly, one commenter wrote, “Kavanaugh must GO. And
also remove him from the SCOTUS.”
At the Board of Visitors meeting, one student said, “As
someone who has survived sexual assault three times I do not feel comfortable
with someone who has sexual assault allegations … walking on campus.”
It is outlandish to claim Kavanaugh endangers the safety of
students at George Mason University. He will teach a course in Runnymede,
England, which is separated from the university’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus by
more than 3,600 miles and the Atlantic Ocean. Moreover, the law school’s decision
to hire Kavanaugh should not be treated as a referendum on his confirmation or
a chance to revisit the baseless allegations leveled at him last fall.
The students who chose to apply for the summer course taught
by Kavanaugh should be allowed to learn from him. The outrage mob at George
Mason’s main campus should not deprive these law students of the
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of interacting with a sitting Supreme Court justice—one
of the leading legal minds and most powerful judges in our nation.
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