Dean of Fordham University School of Law
A talk by Dr. Matthew Diller
On October 29th, the Department of International and Middle Eastern Studies hosted a talk by Dr. Matthew Diller, Dean of Fordham University School of Law, on “Supreme Court Nominations Process in the US: the Case of Brett Kavanaugh.” In this well-attended lecture, Dean Diller offered a historical perspective on the establishment of the supreme court and how it was viewed by the Framers of the Constitution. Students learned that confirmation hearings were originally only held for controversial cases, and that hearings became a standard part of the nomination process only after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 when the court ruled school segregation unconstitutional. Since then the Supreme Court has become increasingly polarized with justices falling into liberal and conservative camps.

Dean Diller explained that the Kavanaugh hearings were controversial even before Dr. Ford’s allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee. A series of events contributed to the controversy, including, the year-long Republican filibuster of Merrick Garland (Obama’s nominee during his last year to replace former Justice Scalia), and the recent nomination of Justice Gorsuch (conservative) followed by the retirement of Justice Kennedy (swing vote). This opened up the opportunity for the Trump Administration to nominate a candidate, who would decidedly create a conservative Supreme Court.

After having covered the details of the Kavanaugh hearings, students and faculty engaged in a lively discussion with Dean Diller about the possibility of impeaching sitting justices, the probability of creating an even more conservative Supreme Court as the liberal justices are older (two of whom could retire in the foreseeable future), and comparisons between the Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh hearings, among others.