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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Justice Brett Kavanaugh teaches seminar at Notre Dame London Gateway; Justice Amy Coney Barrett to teach seminar in coming weeks

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh recently taught a seminar at Notre Dame’s London Gateway, according to Notre Dame law professor William Kelley.

The seminar, co-taught by Kelley and Kavanaugh, focused on advanced constitutional law and ran from March 6 through 10 and concluded March 21. Students discussed with Kavanaugh and Kelley how the Supreme Court functions and considered both high profile and recent cases. 

By virtue of its seminar format, the class was a “back and forth” between the two professors and the students, Kelley said.

"One thing … that really marks how [Justice Kavanaugh] does things is he really is open to disagreement," he said. "He was candid about, 'Gee, I thought this was a hard case, this why I did what I did,' that sort of thing."

The seminar enrolled 19 students from the London law program coming from a variety of law backgrounds. Kelley said he heard comments from students who "would be predisposed to disagree with Justice Kavanaugh" that mentioned "how great" it was to learn from Kavanaugh and have an "open dialogue."

The course was open to the roughly 40 students in the program, with the only enrollment cap being students could not enroll in both the Kavanaugh seminar and a future seminar to be taught by fellow U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett alongside Kelley later in the semester, he said. The law program held a reception this month with Kavanaugh open to all students in the program.

Kelley said the seminars offer students an opportunity to not only learn from judges from the highest level of courts in the U.S. but to also get to know them as human beings. 

"I think it’s great for Notre Dame, it’s good for the legal profession for students to be around Supreme Court justices and to see that they’re human and that they’re real people, very relatable," he said. 

Kavanaugh and Kelley have known each other for decades. Kelley said. The two worked together in the White House during President George W. Bush’s term. Their relationship led to the class coming about naturally as co-teaching together was something they had talked about for years, Kelley said. Kelley has taught at Notre Dame in stints dating back to the 1990s and served in roles including Deputy Counsel to the President under President Bush from 2005 to 2007, according to his Notre Dame profile.

Kavanaugh, who spoke in January at the Notre Dame Law School, visited London to teach the seminar in between the February and March Supreme Court sittings, Kelley said. The court holds monthly two-week sittings from October through April. Barrett’s seminar will take place in between the March and April sittings, Kelley said.

Throughout his term on the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh has continued to teach, Kelley explained.

"I think he really enjoys teaching," he said. "And I think he’s really enjoyed his relationship with students, mentoring and learning together."

Kelley said he has spoken with most of the students in the seminar and they overwhelmingly "thought it was terrific."

"They really thought [Kavanaugh] was open and warm and curious and listened to what they had to say," he said.