On Friday, 50 Yale Law School faculty members signed a letter urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to treat seriously Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Supreme Court Nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school. Kavanaugh is a graduate of the university and the law school.

By Monday, more than 100 Yale students had traveled to Washington, D.C., to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination at the Supreme Court. Others staged a sit-in back at Yale. And more than 30 professors cancelled classes for the day.

Yale Law students protest Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court on Sept. 24. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Yale Law students protest Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court on Sept. 24. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

That came after a Sunday night report from the New Yorker in which a classmate at Yale in the 1980s, Deborah Ramirez, alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party when they were first-year students. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations.

‘Today is really about the larger national conversation’

In Washington, students held umbrellas and signs aloft outside the Supreme Court in the rain, while on campus in New Haven, they filled the hallway of the law school. About 300 students participated in the protests on campus, and 115 others traveled to Washington to demonstrate, said John Gonzalez, a second-year law student who said the protests included the majority of the student body of about 600. He had just marched from meetings with senators back to the Supreme Court to continue demonstrating outside with other organizations.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined the students in New Haven and, later, in Washington.

Yale Law School students protest at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. (John Gonzalez)
Yale Law School students protest at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. (John Gonzalez)

Catherine McCarthy, a third-year law student, said it was moving to see the main hallway of the school filled with people wearing black and sitting silently Monday morning; she had never seen it so quiet.

“This is an institution that has a role to play and a moral obligation when its own community members and members of the legal community are not being treated with respect,” McCarthy said. “Today is really about the larger national conversation, and how Yale Law School, as an elite legal institution, is involved and implicated in this conversation.”

Students had been told the school must remain nonpartisan, she said, “but sexual violence is not a partisan issue.”

Students protesting at Yale Law School. (Sam Peltz)
Students protesting at Yale Law School. (Sam Peltz)

On Monday, Heather Gerken, dean of Yale’s law school, wrote to the campus that the allegations against Kavanaugh “are rightly causing deep concern at Yale Law School and across the country,” and that many professors and students are taking action, including the 50 faculty members who signed the letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and students gathered in Washington and on campus. “Students have worked with the Law School administration and faculty so that the community can come together as a whole to discuss this important moment in our country’s history,” Gerken wrote.

“As dean, I cannot take a position on the nomination, but I am so proud of the work our community is doing to engage with these issues, and I stand with them in supporting the importance of fair process, the rule of law, and the integrity of the legal system.”

Just a faction of the protesters

Gonzalez said two Yale Law students were arrested in the morning and charged with refusing to comply with rules governing protests on Capitol grounds.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, Eva Malecki, did not immediately confirm the arrests of the students.

Yale Law students protest Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court Sept. 24. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Yale Law students protest Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court Sept. 24. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

On Monday evening, Malecki said in a written statement 128 people were charged with unlawfully demonstrating in Senate office buildings. Forty-six people were removed from the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Monday morning, and shortly after noon, 82 people were removed from the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building and charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding. It is unlawful to demonstrate inside any of the Capitol buildings.

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