What are we going to do with Brett Kavanaugh? He has the pedigree and politics to be a Conservative hero. His background is elite, but his testimony last Thursday reeked with entitlement. He listed off his accomplishments, pleading that he worked his butt off, he lifted weights, he graduated from Yale, as if those things should excuse the alleged sexual assault. He cried. He wanted your sympathy. He wanted you to believe he was the victim. He was defiant. He wanted you to believe the Supreme Court nomination was something owed to him.
Christine Blasey Ford was calm, collected and was eager to answer the Senate Committee member’s questions. She was not evasive, and was honest when she could not recall certain details the Senators wanted. Conservative and Progressive onlookers alike believed her testimony was credible.
Today, despite an ongoing one-week FBI investigation, we do not seem to be any closer to knowing the truth of what happened 30 some years ago. We are still faced with a familiar he-said she-said situation. Unfortunately, women in these positions are often heard but not listened to, and come out on the losing end. Notwithstanding the #metoo movement, the patriarchy lives on.
Assuming something did occur, however innocent or nefarious, does it matter that Judge Kavanaugh was a minor when the alleged assault occurred? Absolutely it does. The teenage partying and athlete-bro-culture are excusable practices many men and women participate in during their formative years. Barring serious transgressions, “kids will be kids”, and society should not eternally condemn individuals for what they did in their youth.
However, sexual assault is a serious transgression, and the details Mrs. Ford provided were disturbing. Every Senate Committee member admitted that Christine Blasey Ford’s story was both authentic and harrowing. Nevertheless, the Republicans voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh anyway. It’s as if her perfect presentation, credible testimony and lifelong suffering did not matter. Unfortunately, it’s only the most recent publicized example of why sexual assault victims often keep their stories to themselves.
What is lost in the Ford v. Kavanaugh narrative is that it didn’t have to be this way. The Republican Senate Committee members could have called other witnesses to corroborate or refute Ford’s story. The additional testimony would have given more color to the alleged assault, and could have nullified the need for the hasty one-week FBI investigation. The lack of additional witnesses, especially known key-witnesses like Brett’s estranged friend, Mark Judge (alleged to have been present in the room when the assault took place), gives the impression that the Republican Senators were not interested in actually finding the truth, but merely appearing as if they were finding the truth.
The Republican Committee members deferred their time to question Mrs. Ford to female Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. This was to avoid the potentially damning visual of a panel of Conservative men attacking the credibility of a female sexual assault victim. Afterward, a double-standard revealed itself during the questioning of Judge Kavanaugh. Republican Senators seized Prosecutor Mitchell’s allotted time, and spoke directly to Judge Kavanaugh themselves, grandstanding and empathizing with him in the process.
In the end, the hearing was not a truth-finding endeavor; instead, it was an attempt to push through a partisan judge with a history of support for the Republican Party. Kavanaugh’s partisanship was on full display when he vengefully railed against Progressive supporters and the Clinton family. His anti-Democratic testimony was so belligerent that legal ethics experts believe if confirmed, he would be subject to recusal claims when considering cases involving liberals or sexual assault victims (the Judicial Code states Judges should step aside from cases where their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” and if they have a “personal bias or prejudice”). It’s hard to imagine any Progressive or Independent supporting Judge Kavanaugh. The validity of the judicial branch would be called into question should the Senate confirm him to the Supreme Court.
The Republican Party controls the White House, the Senate and the House. Theoretically, they could push through almost any Supreme Court nominee whose credentials pass basic muster. To compare, the confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch proceeded with little fanfare. Why are the Republicans so enamored with Judge Kavanaugh?
In Conservative circles, Brett Kavanaugh has been a Republican star and is one of many on a list of qualified individuals for the Supreme Court seat. Before his nomination, the name on the top of many conservatives’ list for the Supreme Court was Amy Coney Barrett. But now it seems Republicans are married to Kavanaugh as a matter of principle, even if taken all together, he’s no longer the best choice.
The frustration with how Kavanaugh’s hearing unfolded was on full display when Republican Senator Lindsay Graham used his entire five minutes of time to beat his chest and threaten and vilify the Democratic Committee members. However, his condemnation of Democrats for allegedly thwarting the confirmation process was disingenuous at best and hypocrisy at its worst. Roughly two years ago Graham gloated to President Obama that his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland would never be confirmed. The Republican-controlled Senate strung the confirmation process out for over a year, and never even considered confirming Judge Garland.
Politics aside, how should independent free-thinkers assess Judge Kavanaugh? No matter how credible or incredible you believe Mrs. Ford or Mr. Kavanaugh were, it’s likely that we’ll never know for sure what happened between them. If the sexual assault occurred as Mrs. Ford alleges, should our judgement be mitigated by the fact that it occurred at a different time culturally, or that Mr. Kavanaugh was a minor when it happened?
Although Judge Kavanaugh has the pedigree for consideration for the Supreme Court, the hearing put a spotlight on some of his most serious flaws. He may have committed sexual assault as a teenager, and he certainly has lied under oath. He displayed an uneven, emotional, and at times vengeful temperament. Is that the disposition we want from our Supreme Court Justices?
If you’re a Conservative, you know his politics align with yours, and his Supreme Court vote could be what reverses Roe v. Wade, strengthens religious freedoms, weakens federal regulations, and limits the rights of the LGBTQ community. If you’re a Progressive, Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and the aftermath of the hearing has simply reaffirmed your opposition to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Judge Kavanaugh may be qualified to be an attorney and even a Federal Court Judge, but the last two weeks have demonstrated that he is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court.
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