On Aug. 29th, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Diane Feistein received a letter from eight recent or current members of Harvard Law’s Black Law Student Association (BLSA), including Shreveport mayoral candidate Adrian Perkins, in support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court.
The Bayou Brief contacted Perkins, both directly and through his campaign, and, as of the time of publication, has yet to receive a response.
The letter praises Kavanaugh, a staunchly pro-life conservative who is now confronting credible allegations of sexual assault, for meeting with African-American students in March and providing them “his insights and advice” on how to secure a judicial clerkship. “The students who have signed below write to express appreciation for the Judge’s enthusiasm on this issue and hope that his efforts will be taken into consideration,” the letter reads.
The Harvard BLSA subsequently issued an official statement to the media, distancing itself from the letter submitted by Perkins and his classmates. “The vast majority of these individuals who signed the letter, moreover, have already graduated from Harvard Law School and are no longer active members of Harvard BLSA,” the organization explains.
After graduating from Harvard Law earlier this year, Perkins, 32, returned to his hometown of Shreveport in order to run for mayor as a Democrat.
Only a year ago, he told the publication Harvard Law Today that he intended on pursuing a career in technology and was considering taking a job with the corporate firm Sidley Austin in Los Angeles, where he worked as a summer associate. “If I go to a corporate law firm, I could carve out a specific space for (practicing tech law),” he said.
Perkins is one of six “viable” candidates and, according to internal polling commissioned by a group of area business leaders, is currently locked in a tight battle for second place. The poll, which has not yet been released to the public, suggests that incumbent Mayor Ollie Tyler is almost certain to finish first in the general election but is severely vulnerable in the runoff.
Perkins’ campaign has largely been propelled by the strength of his resume: He attended West Point, where he served as the school’s first-ever African-American class president. That was followed by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, a Bronze Star, and then Harvard Law, where he was elected student government president.
In light of Stanford professor Christine Blasey Ford’s credible allegations, disclosed on Sunday morning in The Washington Post, that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school, Perkins’ decision to support Kavanaugh’s nomination, which until now had not been reported, is certain to raise significant concerns among the moderate Republicans and the young progressives that he hopes to attract.
His encounter with Kavanaugh was brief and insignificant, but the letter he signed was prominently referenced by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee as evidence of the nominee’s commitment to diversity.
To his critics, who had already expressed concern about turning over the leadership of City Hall to a young man who hasn’t lived there full-time since he graduated from high school fifteen years ago and who, according to publicly available records, has never cast a vote in Shreveport, it reinforces the perception that Perkins may be willing to place his own ambition above the principles he espouses as a Democratic candidate.
For others, though, it may be perceived as a sign of his political independence and willingness to forge meaningful alliances with conservatives. After all, at the time he signed the letter, the allegations about Kavanaugh had not yet been disclosed to the public, and it is more likely than not that either Kavanaugh or the White House solicited letters of support from as many organizations as possible. It does not seem plausible that eight Harvard BLSA members submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee without at least some prompting or request.
Publisher’s Note: I have previously published an opinion piece by another candidate for Shreveport mayor, Steven Jackson, and I have covered his efforts to remove a Confederate monument at the Caddo Parish Courthouse. After Jackson (who I have known for nearly a decade) was targeted and threatened by racist hate mail, I made a personal contribution to his campaign. The Bayou Brief became aware of Perkins’ letter through a tip provided by a reader in New Orleans. Jackson has never received any compensation for his opinion column, and neither he nor his campaign have ever contributed to The Bayou Brief. Prior to publication, I also reached out to Jackson to inform him of my ethical obligation to preemptively disclose my campaign donation. He had no involvement in or prior knowledge of this report.