Grace Vaule gives an overview of the Kavanaugh confirmation and what it means as we go forward in this new America
After weeks of protest, the United States Senate has voted 50 to 48 to elevate Judge Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court, despite a number of allegations against the Judge for sexual assault. As a female and a liberal democrat, this confirmation is deeply upsetting.
On 9 July 2018, President Trump nominated conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy, whose ideology was not restricted by applying the label ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative,’ served as the swing vote on many key cases. While he sided with conservatives on applying restrictions on travel from predominantly Muslim countries and voted against affirmative action, he sided with the liberal viewpoint on issues such as LGBTQ rights, criminal justice, and abortion rights.
Although Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh does not come as a surprise given his dedication to the creation of a conservative Supreme Court, the nomination has enraged many. With the retirement of the swing voter, Trump seized the opportunity to fulfill his frequently vocalized goal. He chose Kavanaugh for his conservative record, Ivy League credentials, and deep allegiance to the Republican party.
The nomination sparked immediate rage and fear amongst liberals throughout the nation who fervently opposed the formation of a conservative Supreme Court, but the controversy took on another dimension with an accusation of sexual and physical assault. Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, currently an American professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University, said that while she and the Supreme Court nominee were high school students in Maryland, they both attended a party where she was forced into a bedroom by an inebriated Kavanaugh, who was encouraged by a laughing friend, groped, and forced to remove her clothes as Kavanaugh silenced her screams with his hand to her mouth. Ford called The Post’s tip line, contacted her member of Congress, and wrote a letter to California Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein to report the assault, who ultimately referred the case over to the FBI for further investigation. Additionally, two more women came forward to report Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her drunkenly at a college party, and Julie Swetnick says Kavanaugh was present as she was raped at a high school party. These allegations raised questions and concerns about Kavanaugh’s drinking and treatment of women.
Although Ford was open in sharing notes from a couple’s therapy session in 2012, where she goes into vivid description of the assault, passed a polygraph test, the FBI investigation did reveal inconsistencies. This FBI’s report was the deciding factor in the Senate Vote. Indeed, the vote ultimately came to 50 to 48, and thus Kavanaugh was to be sworn in as the newest Justice on the Supreme Court. These results broke out almost entirely along party lines, with only one Republican voting against Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation into the Supreme Court. Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, defends her decision to break with her party, and says that, “we’re dealing with issues right now that are bigger than the nominee and how we ensure fairness and how our legislative and judicial branch can continue to be respected.” In contrast, Susan Collins, Maine’s Republican senator, supported her decision to vote in favor of Judge Kavanaugh, warning against abandoning the presumption of innocence without sufficient evidence.
Currently, the United States is a country marked my deep contradictions. Some of the largest protests in American history are happening right now. Civilians are calling for social change, change in the forms of racial, gender, and sexual equality. Yet the President has been accused by twenty-two different women for sexual misconduct, and infamous for his crude and offensive “grab them by the pussy” comment to Billy Bush, claiming how, “when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.” This verdict on Kavanaugh epitomizes the United States’ apathetic attitude about the mistreatment of women, and feels like a major setback in the movement for women’s rights, a movement that the majority are desperately fighting for. However, the inspiring determination of the nation brings comfort during this discouraging time as a sense of unity in the fight is forging. Protests have continued to occur, survivors of abuse have shared #MeToo to raise awareness, and others have rallied around the new hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport.
The case of Kavanaugh provides insight into the United States as a country, and will have profound implications for the future. The case illuminates the nation’s abuse of partisan labels and ignorance on the topic of sexual assault. Unfortunately, with Kavanaugh as the newest member of the Supreme Court, it is doubtful that these issues will be sufficiently addressed. Indeed, it is undeniable that Kavanaugh is incredibly well-educated, has an extensive background in politics and law, and if there was not sufficient evidence to prove him guilty, then as the Constitution states, he cannot be assumed as guilty. However, it is important to consider in this case, “if a man who has been accused of sexual assault can be elevated into the Supreme Court, where does that leave the victims?”