Kavanaugh Hearings Shape Hawaii's Future Lawyers

Sep 28, 2018

Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.
Credit NPR/PBS Newshour Live Stream Screenshot / Indiana Public Media

As Christine Blasey-Ford gave an emotional recounting of a teenage sexual assault and Brett Kavanaugh gave a fiery denial, law students from the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law had assembled to watch the entire proceeding live.

The screening had been arranged by the law school's Associate Deans. During breaks in the hearing, Professor Linda Krieger led an ad hoc discussion of what students were watching.

Some of the discussion focused on technical court procedure like standards for evidence and speaking order for those testifying. But students also discussed broader topics like the similarities between the Anita Hill hearings during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clearance Thomas.

Professor Krieger expressed concern that the bitter partisan environment in Washington is eroding democratic norms and collegiality in Congress, threatening once unassailable institutions like the Supreme Court. However, she also expressed optimism that the current generation of students can return civility to public discourse.

Ronette Kawakami, Associate Dean of the Richardson Law School, helped arrange the screening and wants students to learn more than just academic lessons from the Kavanaugh confirmation. She said that watching this experience unfold should drive home to importance of ethical conduct both personally and professionally.

During his testimony, Brett Kavanaugh referred to the proceedings as a “circus” and predicted that his treatment would deter young people from public service in the future. Both faculty and students present rebuffed that claim, saying that any Supreme Court hopeful should be open to scrutiny of their entire life.

The U.S. Senate is tentatively scheduled to vote next week on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be on the Supreme Court. Earlier this morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance the nomination - although a final vote will not be scheduled until a FBI investigation has been completed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the screening had been arranged by Professor Linda Krieger. The screening was actually organized by the Associate Deans of the Richardson Law School. Professor Krieger brought students from her class to attend.