Professor told class: 'You can stop' SCOTUS nomination of Amy Coney Barrett
Point Park University Professor Dora Ion compared Amy Coney Barrett’s perceived inability to remain neutral to that of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during an online class session.
Later in class, she reminded students about the “constitutional means” at their disposal, such as the right to petition.
A professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania told her class that "you can stop" the nomination of then-Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and encouraged students to "petition" their senators to vote against the nomination.
During a class session of Introduction to the Study of Government Systems at Point Park University, Assistant Professor of Political Science Dora Ion told her class " I ask you guys...you can stop that," when referring to the nomination of then-Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
She then proceeded to tell her class how they could petition their senators to vote down the nomination, specifically invoking the name of Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.
“We cannot stop the confirmation vote, anyways. I ask you guys...you can stop that...I mean you still have constitutional means at your disposal, and I’m saying you, yeah, students, you and I. We do have that at our disposal, like our right to petition,” Ion said.
When asked if Amy Coney Barrett would be biased in her work at the Supreme Court, Ion said that it's "very doubtful" that Barrett would use laws to guide her decisions: “I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I have to say, it’s very doubtful that will happen...She’s religious, and every person is religious. Ya know most people are religious, but she is religious in a way, ya know, she is fundamentally religious. She’s ultra-conservative.”
Campus Reform Correspondent Logan Dubil, who is in the class, confirmed that the comments were said. Another student who chose to remain anonymous also confirmed that Ion made these comments.
In an email, Ion said that it is a "misunderstanding" that she urged students to try and "stop" the nomination.
"What you interpret as 'urging' stems from a misunderstanding: I told students that IF they were to petition on the confirmation vote, they had to do it as soon as possible, as the vote was supposed to take place sooner than expected," Ion said. "As it happens, the confirmation vote on the Senate floor is yet to take place, and during the Thursday class I DID NOT remind students to submit petitions. Because I am not interested in obtaining a political result with the help of my students!"
Ion told Campus Reform that “You accuse me of ‘liberal bias.’ Is liberal bias when I teach students that liberal democracy is not a regime run by liberals, but a constitutional regime? Is liberal bias to remind students that conservatism should not be misunderstood, that it is a progressive, not retrogressive, ideology on the political spectrum?”
“I don’t think anyone can accuse me of presenting conservatism other than as a very compelling set of unitary and coherent set of ideas. Nor that I ever extolled the moral superiority of liberalism over conservatism.”
Ion also said that she didn't offer extra credit for students writing to their senators on the issue.
“Petitioning a senator or representative is a problem-solving activity that is commonly assigned in low-level political classes like POLS 250. I offered this optional activity to students earlier in the semester, for extra credit. I never conditioned the extra credit upon writing a specific letter for a specific political result. Some students, though, have asked me to provide details on how and what to write, and you were in class when I straightforwardly refused to interfere with the content of the letter," Ion told Dubil.
"I am not surprised that this incident took place. Point Park University is an extremely liberal campus. Conservative students are scared to speak out and that is extremely disappointing. Professor Ion started the class off strong, but as the weeks went by, a few classmates and I started to realize how biased she truly is. As a conservative student, I was upset to see a professor using her role to pick sides. According to her, this incident was a misunderstanding, but I understood it clearly," Dubil explained to Campus Reform.
"To be fair, I shouldn’t have assumed she was being biased without knowing her side of the story, but by the end of it all, it was clear what she was doing. Reminding students that they have a right to contact state senators is one thing, but bring up Pat Toomey’s name and telling students to write to him in order to stop ACB’s confirmation is inappropriate from a professor’s perspective," he added.
Campus Reform reached out to the university but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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