Law students passed out armbands and flyers to their classmates in Chapman’s Fowler School of Law Oct. 10, when some began a three-day strike from attending classes. Chapman’s National Lawyers Guild chapter organized the event to protest Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation.
Chapman’s students joined protestors at at least two law schools in New York City who walked out of their classes Oct. 10 and posted on social media with the hashtag #StrikeAgainstKavanaugh.
The guild encouraged law students to use the time they would have spent in class to contact their congressional candidates about the nation’s political welfare.
Second-year Chapman law students Connor Smith, the guild’s chapter president, and Christina Mojica, the guild’s director of community engagement, led the event in the law school’s student lounge.
“It is unlikely that Kavanaugh will be impeached, but bringing attention to that issue as a possibility as something that might happen within the realm of political possibility is huge,” Smith told The Panther. “We as people, as a community, as a nation, can act in concert to remove people from office if we need to.”
The event featured a voter registration station, where students could sign up electronically to vote in the midterm elections before California’s Oct. 22 deadline. Students could also write letters to their senators and senatorial candidates. At the event, some drew or painted on a large #MeToo paper mural in the student lounge.
“As a woman and a future lawyer, this is super important to me,” Mojica told The Panther. “It’s really important to stand up to this, because the confirmation set a precedent and basically told women that if they report sexual assault, they are going to be turned down. It’s upsetting that a judge with that kind of type of temperament is sitting on the highest court of the land.”
“It’s upsetting that a judge with that kind of temperament is sitting on the highest court of the land.”
The law students who led the protest worked with undergraduate students who hosted a rally in the Attallah Piazza at 1 p.m. the same day, which drew at least 300 people.
The speakers at the walkout spoke about women’s rights and justice in sexual assault investigations. At the end of the walkout, they announced the law school protest. Mojica then led a few people from the Attallah Piazza to the law school.=
“As a future lawyer, I will advocate for you,” Mojica said to the crowd at the protest.
Sarah Chapekis, a second-year law student who attended the event, said she has cried over Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court and is not optimistic about its future.
“It feels (like it will be) really really difficult to be able to (do things differently in the future as a lawyer),” she said. “It feels like (the government) just puts up a wall where anything I want to do about the law is now going to be a lot harder. The lawyers can only work within the law. If the judicial branch is upholding laws that I don’t think should be upheld, that’s kind of the place I’m stuck at.”
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) October 10, 2018
The National Lawyers Guild’s Orange County chapter hopes that the protest and strike will serve as a symbolic message to the public and “will highlight the intensity with which we believe that Brett Kavanaugh is an illegitimate appointee who is not fit to sit on the highest court in the land,” according to a press release from the organization that Mojica provided to The Panther.
“To show how intensely we feel about this, we are encouraging students to strike their classes for the rest of the week,” Smith said. “Your absence will be a testament to your conviction.”
An information slip provided at the event that was written by the American Constitution Society in Washington, D.C., said that Kavanaugh will threaten Roe versus Wade and the rights of women, side with big corporations over workers’ rights and allow President Donald Trump’s abuses of power go unchecked.
“As the president’s nominee for the Court, Kavanaugh … will expressly target laws, freedoms and protections that the radical far right has been trying to undo for decades,” the document said.
Because many students have midterms, the guild provided black armbands to represent solidarity with the strike for students who cannot miss class.
The armbands are a reference to 1960s student movements and protests against the Vietnam War. So far, law professors have been supportive of the protest, Smith and Mojica said.
“From my own experience going to school here, there tends to be a lack of conversation, just about anything. The political process affects us in our daily lives, even if you don’t really realize it,” Mojica said. “I want to open up the political dialogue for all students and let them know it’s okay to speak out and it’s right to speak out when morality is being questioned.”