Columbia Law School will welcome a high-profile commencement speaker for its virtual law school graduation ceremony this week, former Vice President — and likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee — Joe Biden. But don’t expect Columbia’s professors and administrators, who led the fight to derail Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination over decades old sexual assault allegations to speak out against Biden, despite his own issues.
Biden will appear on livestream, Wednesday, to address Columbia law school graduates and deliver a “virtual” commencement address — the first absentee commencement in Columbia’s history, according to Law.com.
In a letter to faculty and students announcing Biden’s speech, Columbia law dean Gillian Lester said that “Vice President Joe Biden is synonymous with public service,” and that “his enduring and exemplary career as a leader, lawyer and public servant sets an example for our students as they prepare to begin their own course as legal professionals.”
It likely helps that Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee and a favorite among Columbia law faculty, at least according to Fox News, which questioned some of the school’s most high-profile professors, many of whom were instrumental in the anti-Kavanaugh “resistance.”
Columbia law faculty and administration were among the most vocal opponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination, leading both in-person protests, and organizing 2,400 other law professors to sign a letter calling Kavanaugh unfit to serve on the nation’s highest court. The group, of course, cited Kavanaugh’s “temperment” when questioned about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when the pair were teenagers as proof positive that Kavanaugh did not deserve his Supreme Court seat.
The school itself refused to comment on Biden’s own issues with alleged sexual misconduct — he is, of course, accused of sexually assaulting his former Senate aide, Tara Reade, back in the mid-1990s — but several professors, some of whom were instrumental in the anti-Kavanaugh efforts, spoke to Fox News, and had a difficult time squaring their support for the former vice president with their opposition to the now-Supreme Court Justice.
Many of the most vocal anti-Kavanaugh Columbia professors, Bernard Harcourt (who organized the 2,400-professor letter) and Avery Katz specifically, refused to speak to the network, but a criminal law professor who signed Harcourt’s letter told the network, “My opposition to Kavanaugh was based on his temperament,” not his supposed sexual impropriety (though the two are connected).
“Jeffrey Gordon, a capital markets and corporate governance professor, told Fox News in an email that he simply did not believe Tara Reade, the former Biden staffer who says her old boss penetrated her without consent in 1993. Gordon added that Ford’s accusations were not the main reason he opposed Kavanaugh,” the outlet said.
Although Fox News pointed out that Dr. Ford’s story had similar inconsistencies to those in Reade’s, Gordon simply added that he “tended to believe Dr. Ford.”
Others simply said they believed Joe Biden and respected his commitment to “transparency.”
No protests, by either faculty or students, of Biden’s commencement speech are planned.