by Rose Laoutaris
On October 6, 2018, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed and sworn in as the 114th Supreme Court justice, and Harvard Law School is already offering a course next semester titled “Constitutional Strategies for the McConnell/Trump/Kavanaugh Era”.
According to the course description,
This seminar will assess the challenges for democracy under law, for human rights, and for fact-based government posed by the successful strategies of McConnell, Trump, and Kavanaugh — and will explore ways of using constitutional law and politics to push back against those strategies.
This course will be taught by Professor Laurence Tribe who certainly has not kept his political views a secret. He coauthored a book titled To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment and wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2017 titled ” Trump must be impeached. Here’s why.”
He told Campus Reform in an email, “Law students who are interested — from whatever ideological perspective — in what the current political and legal landscape might mean for the litigation and/or legislation they may consider becoming involved in (whether defensively or offensively) after they graduate deserve well-informed guidance as they navigate this complex new terrain. My new seminar is designed to offer that guidance.”
There are multiple problems with his new law course, and the first is that Tribe implies that the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a challenge for democracy under law. This does not make sense because President Trump was a democratically-elected president. He appointed Kavanaugh, and the Senate confirmed him. Throughout that process, there was no challenge to democracy.
Tribe also suggests that McConnell, Trump, and Kavanaugh are challenging human rights which is an incredibly false statement. The course description does not describe any of the supposed challenges to human rights it will be discussing; however, the common complaints leftists have against these men for human rights violations are not actual human rights violations. For example, in an article from TruthOut titled ” Brett Kavanaugh is a Threat to Racial Justice and Voting Rights,” author Marjorie Cohn criticized Justice Kavanaugh as a threat because of his criticism of affirmative action and his vote to uphold a voter ID law in South Carolina v. United States. However, neither of these are violations of human rights.
Affirmative action is actually racial injustice since it confers privileges to members of certain groups because of their race or gender. By ruling against affirmative action, Kavanaugh actually proved himself to be for racial justice since he wants people, no matter who they are, to have equal opportunity. As for Cohn’s second point, requiring an ID to vote is not a threat to voting rights. With these laws, every voter is required to have an ID, and everyone, regardless of their race, must meet the same requirements. It is actually quite racist and absurd to assume that people are less capable of obtaining an ID because of their race.
The next suggestion Tribe makes is that McConnell, Trump, and Kavanaugh are challenging a “fact-based government.” This is incredibly ironic considering Harvard students protested the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh over accusations made against him with little-to-no evidence and filed Title IX cases against him. If Harvard students and professors truly cared about a fact-based government, they would not have protested the confirmation of Kavanaugh because of sexual assault allegations without factual evidence to back them up.
Tribe’s agenda is clear in the last sentence of the course description where he says that students will be taught how to “push back” against the strategies of McConnell, Trump, and Kavanaugh. It is wrong for Tribe to force his personal beliefs about these three men on these students as they are not based in fact, and students will only be exposed to one point of view.
It is disappointing that Harvard Law School, the third best law school in the nation, will be offering a course that is untruthful and one-sided. Tribe should not allow his personal biases against McConnell, Trump, and Kavanaugh to be so evident in his course. Harvard Law students should be taught law, not how to “push back” and resist these men.
Rose Laoutaris is a 2018 Fall Intern.