Democrats have criticized the writings of Kenneth Lee '97 as "inflammatory." Lee was nominated for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

March 7, 2019

Democratic Senators Slam Judicial Nominee Kenneth Lee’s ’97 Writings for The Cornell Review

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On Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement against President Trump’s latest nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Cornell alumnus Kenneth Lee ’97 failed to disclose “controversial writings” — some of which were written and published during his time at Cornell.

Some of the writings the senators cited were published in The Cornell Review, a self-described “conservative, contrarian, anti-establishment” student-run publication, according to its website, at which Lee worked throughout his time at Cornell. Feinstein and Harris criticized Lee for failing to disclose the articles to the Judiciary Committee.

“These new articles — some published around the same time and even in the same publication as writings that have been turned over — are even more inflammatory than others that Lee failed to initially disclose,” the Democratic senators wrote in the statement. “It is hard to believe these omissions were unintentional.”

After joining the publication his freshman year, Lee served as editor in chief for two and a half years, writing tens of articles, according to his farewell editorial published in December 1996.

Lee did not respond to The Sun’s requests for comment.

Feinstein and Harris catalogued many articles in The Review written by Lee between 1993 and 1996, calling them “inflammatory” and specifically quoting from two.

The senators further highlighted a piece they said Lee wrote in defense of The Review’s parody of Ebonics, quoting Lee: “If the Oakland School Board provides politically correct, feel-good nonsense to poor urban blacks, Cornell University does the same for middle-class and affluent blacks. The university has justly garnered a notorious reputation for championing racial group-think and multicultural dogma.”

Other articles authored by Lee critiqued the University’s liberal-leaning faculty, such as in his “Where’s the Diversity? Cornell Faculty Dominated by Democrats” from 1995 and “GOP Need Not Apply” from 1996.

The Review published a free, biweekly paper during Lee’s tenure as editor in chief. Students from The Review did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

Lee was first nominated for the position in November 2018. After the nomination was not acted upon in time by Jan. 3 in the Senate, President Donald Trump nominated the alumnus again in February.

Some conservatives did not appear concerned about the writings. One of these was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who said he was not “overly worried about it,” on Monday, Politico reported.

A Wall Street Journal editorial criticized the senators’ discussion of college writings in recent hearings, writing that “what Mr. Lee wrote in college is of no relevance to how he’d behave as a jurist.”

Democrats, however, claimed that Lee’s columns — and his failure to share them with the Committee — were troubling.

“Not only does this indicate an intention to obstruct the vetting process, it indicates Lee may continue to hold extreme and troubling views on race, which would place him out of step with the mainstream legal community in California,” the Californian senators wrote. “The committee should not be moving forward with a hearing on any date.”