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Yale Law Students Protest Alum Brett Kavanaugh, Demand Investigation of Sexual Assault Allegations

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Thousands of Yale students are protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in support of Deborah Ramirez, the Yale alumna who alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her by thrusting his genitals in her face at a drunken dorm party when they were both freshmen. Kavanaugh is a graduate of both Yale University and the Yale Law School. More than 2,800 Yale women have signed a letter of support for Ramirez. On Monday, Yale Law School faculty canceled 31 classes to allow more than 260 of their students to join a protest in support of Ramirez. We speak with Yale Law School student Samantha Peltz, who helped organize the protests against Brett Kavanaugh. She says that Yale students will “continue speaking out, speaking to the press, until we feel there is a full and fair investigation.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, as we turn right now to New Haven, Connecticut.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: One of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s three named sexual assault accusers is Deborah Ramirez, who says he exposed himself to her, thrusting his genitals in her face, at a drunken dorm party in 1983-1984 school year, when she and Kavanaugh were both freshmen at Yale University. Kavanaugh is a graduate of both Yale University and the Yale Law School. Other alumnae include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Anita Hill. More than 2,200 Yale women have now signed a letter of support for Ramirez, and men have signed a similar letter. On Monday, Yale Law School faculty canceled 31 classes to allow more than 260 of their students to join a protest in support of Ramirez—that’s nearly 40 percent of the school’s student body. They began with a moment of silence to recognize assaults that go unreported.

AMY GOODMAN: Among those to address the protest was Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who’s also an alum of Yale Law School. Dean Heather Gerken released a statement saying the accusations against Kavanaugh are, quote, “rightly causing deep concern at Yale Law School and across the country.” Meanwhile, a Yale Law School professor who wrote a New York Times op-ed in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination when it was first announced has now called for an investigation of the sexual assault claims. In a new op-ed in the Yale Daily News Monday titled “Second Thoughts on Kavanaugh,” Professor Akhil Amar wrote, “I believe that these accusations deserve the best and most professional investigation possible—even if that means a brief additional delay on the ultimate vote on Judge Kavanaugh, and even if that investigatory delay imperils his confirmation.” This is Amar on CNN.

AKHIL AMAR: I have second thoughts because a second issue has arisen, and it’s an issue about which, frankly, I don’t have the facts. I don’t think any American yet has the facts.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Professor Amar. For more, we go to Yale University, where we’re joined by Samantha Peltz, a second-year Yale Law student who helped organize Monday’s protest.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Samantha, it’s great to have you with us. Talk about what you’re doing at Yale. Brett Kavanaugh, a Yale alum.

SAMANTHA PELTZ: So, as you previously said, on Monday, we hosted a sit-in. The first 30 minutes, we sat in silence, took in the silence that suffuses women whose allegations go unreported, sometimes for decades, as your two previous guests spoke about. After that, we did a teach-in, and we were joined by Senator Blumenthal. We discussed Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence, educating ourselves, and, as law students and other students who had joined us, about what the stakes are in this confirmation process. And then, a bit later, we did a walkout and discussed sexual assault allegations in our community and throughout American society as a group. It was probably one of the most powerful things I have ever witnessed at my time at Yale Law School.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Samantha Peltz, can you talk about what you think the significance is of this protest at Yale University, where, of course, Brett Kavanaugh is an alum?

SAMANTHA PELTZ: Well, as you said, a Yale Law degree is a stamp of approval. It’s a position of power. It’s a piece of paper that you can take into the world and show people, “I am qualified to do things.” And we really, really want to appeal to the highest values of our institution, to the highest—we want our alumni to appeal to the highest values. And we’re attempting to hold both our school and our alumni accountable for the power that they hold. We believe that that power has a corresponding responsibility. And we want to broadcast to the world that we understand that responsibility, that we’re interrogating that responsibility, and we demand that our alumni take that responsibility, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Samantha, what are you calling for now?

SAMANTHA PELTZ: Our protest on Monday was primarily about three issues. The first was to support Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the other accusers that have come forward. These women are incredibly brave. And as you’ve spoken about, this echoes in the hearings 27 years ago with Anita Hill. We want the Senate to get it right this time. We are opposing the hasty and incomplete hearing process that is going on now. You know, in law school, we learn that one of the fundamental principles of the legal system is that to the best of your abilities you engage with and investigate the facts before you come to any decision. And we’re demanding that our senators do that in this instance.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Samantha Peltz, will you be watching today? And then what are the plans of the students, also staff? The latest news we have, 2,800 women have signed the letter in support of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Debbie Ramirez. They were both freshmen at Yale when, she says, he thrust his genitals in her face at a drunken Yale party.

SAMANTHA PELTZ: We will be watching the hearings all day today at Yale Law School, and we’ll continue speaking out, speaking to the press, until we feel like there is a full and fair investigation of these allegations. You know, Brett Kavanaugh is not in a criminal court. He is being vetted to be arisen to the highest court in the land, and we feel like his qualifications need to be thoroughly examined before or if that happens.

AMY GOODMAN: Samantha Peltz, we want to thank you so much for being with us, second-year Yale Law student who helped organize a protest Monday to demand a full, fair, impartial investigation into the allegations against the school’s alum, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Again, Debbie Ramirez, also a student at Yale.

This is Democracy Now!, when we come back, President Trump spent the week at the United Nations. He called for sanctions—more sanctions against Venezuela. We’ll talk with Vijay Prashad. Stay with us.

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