The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court has shown, yet again, the willingness of elected officials to disregard what is best for the country in favor of what is best for their party and their own reelection. This is no surprise. Conservatives hold their noses at Donald Trump’s egregious and internationally embarrassing spectacles with the end goal of a solidly conservative Supreme Court. Now, they have their wish.
At the end of June, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Kennedy was, for decades, the court’s swing vote. His retirement gave conservatives a chance to reshape the court’s ideological balance and create a five-four conservative majority. Influence on the Supreme Court is arguably a president’s longest lasting legacy, as the justices they appoint serve lifelong terms. It is, perhaps, natural for Republicans to use this position to ensure the dominance of their ideals through the forecasted liberal “blue wave.”
But by confirming Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans have ripped away any illusion of putting country over party. A high school classmate, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, has bravely put her safety and comfort on the line to tell her story of being assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh in high school. When her wishes to remain anonymous were disrespected, Dr. Ford testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, admitting that she was terrified. Her testimony was moving, credible, and genuine. Kavanaugh’s testimony was a trainwreck. He showed the indignation of a man who cannot fathom women using their voices. He showed the anger of a man who believes credible allegations against him are a conspiracy to avenge the Clintons. He showed the self-importance of a man who believes being first in his high-school class and going to Yale guarantees his morality. He showed the entitlement of a man who believes he deserves to be a Supreme Court justice. He showed the emotional volatility of a man unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.
With an FBI investigation of extremely limited scope regarding a drunken incident from 1982, it would be difficult to completely prove Dr. Ford’s allegations, and innocent until proven guilty is an important principle of American law in court cases. This, however, was not a court case. It was a job interview. No person, regardless of high school record, college education, or time as a federal judge, has a right to be a Supreme Court justice. With the slightest suspicion of a history of sexual assault, our representatives should reconsider allowing someone to shape laws for all Americans for decades. With claims of a history of sexual assault as well-founded as Dr. Ford’s, our representatives should not consider it.
But they did. Fifty-one senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh: all but one Republican (again, well done Senator Murkowski) plus one Democrat. With plenty of viable, solidly Conservative alternatives who have the right temperaments — calm, composed, able to listen to cases and make up their mind in a thoughtful, articulate way — to be a justice, the Senate voted still to confirm Kavanaugh. This is their last grasp at a victory before the upcoming midterm elections, in which Democrats are likely to win a majority in the House of Representatives. This is incredibly distressing. United States Senators, motivated by furthering their political careers, have voted to disregard a woman’s raw, heart-wrenching story and considerable evidence that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath about his drinking habits. Any claim that the Supreme Court is nonpartisan is no longer arguable. Kavanaugh’s confirmation was dripping in self-interest and political motives. The court is now decidedly Conservative, with each side of America furious at the other.
So what now? How can we make this better? Reach across the aisle. Start conversations with people who don’t share your beliefs. Work to create a culture of productive political discourse that can follow our generation through to when we are nominating and confirming Supreme Court justices. Believe women. Listen to our stories and take them to heart. And vote. Always. Vote so that our elected officials reflect our views and enact our goals. As devastating as this confirmation is, use it as fuel.
Opinion pieces represent the views of individual writers, not the publication.