George Mason University selects justice accused of sexual assault for post at Runnymede, birthplace of modern democracy
The US supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh is heading to England this summer specifically to Runnymede, the place immortalized by Magna Carta and called the birthplace of modern democracy to teach a course on the US constitution for an American university. But the appointment is sparking uproar among some students and they are demanding the school rescind its invitation.
The judge, who faced a tempestuous and hugely divisive confirmation process last year over sexual assault allegations stemming from his youth, has been hired by George Mason University to teach the course.
The Virginia college, located in the outskirts of Washington DC, has appointed him to teach a law course on the origins and creation of the US constitution, the university confirmed on 27 March and the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
But in a transatlantic twist, the course is slated to be held in the bucolic setting of Runnymede, where Magna Carta was sealed in 1215, and where George Mason University has located its Antonin Scalia Law School, named after the late supreme court justice who relished his position as a conservative bulwark on the court.
Kavanaugh will be teaching the course with Jennifer Mascott, an assistant professor of law at George Mason who served as Kavanaughs clerk on the US court of appeals for the DC circuit.
Law school faculty approved Kavanaughs appointment in January, according to the university, but his hire was first reported on 22 March by the George Mason student newspaper, the Fourth Estate.
Soon after Kavanaughs hiring became public, Mason For Survivors, a student group of sexual assault survivors and their advocates, created a petition and began hosting protests against Kavanaughs hiring.
There is a historic amount of institutional negligence on your part to support survivors of sexual assault and the student body as a whole, reads the petition, which is addressed to the administration of the university and has received more than 3,000 signatures.
The anger over the schools hire is a stark reminder of the controversy that enveloped Kavanaugh last fall when he was appointed to the court.
Its been more than six months since the California professor Christine Blasey Ford gave explosive testimony in front of the Senate judiciary committee, alleging that Kavanaugh attacked her at a party when they were teenagers and attempted to rape her, which the judge has denied.
But the legacy of the milestone hearing, in which Kavanaugh gave a furiously indignant rebuttal, continues to follow him.
There, four students wrote an op-ed in the Harvard Law Record, saying that an opportunity to learn about the supreme court might not be equally available to women because many will self-select out of a class taught by a credibly accused sexual assailant. Harvard announced in October that Kavanaugh said he could no longer commit to teaching at the school.
George Mason University acknowledged that Kavanaughs hire would anger some students but argued that it would continue to support sexual assault survivors.
The law school has determined that the involvement of a US supreme court justice contributes to making our law program uniquely valuable for our students, wrote the university president, ngel Cabrera, in a statement. The decision, controversial as it may be, in no way affects the universitys ongoing efforts to eradicate sexual violence from our campus.
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