To many, the scandals that arose during the controversial confirmation of new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh are irrelevant now that he has been confirmed. But to many, like Loy Norrix Sophomore Megan Hybels, who believe the accusations that were made against him by three separate women, the case is far from closed.
The nomination and subsequent confirmation of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has significant meaning beyond just a new justice on the court. Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation shifts the balance of the court to a conservative majority. The swing vote on the court will shift from Justice Anthony Kennedy to the much more conservative Chief Justice John Roberts.
Looking past the impact of these accusations on the moral standing of the Supreme Court, his political opinions clash heavily with the current Democrat minority in the national government. With the balance of the Supreme Court shifted to the conservative side for decades possibly, liberals fear that some of their most cherished Supreme Court rulings could be overturned, such as Roe v. Wade, ruling in favor of legalized abortions, and the Obergefell v. Hodge ruling that legalized gay marriage.
These controversial Supreme Court decisions are hanging by a thread, and yet they do not receive the attention that they deserve due to the revolving door of Trump scandals. Additionally, the allegations of sexual harassment made against Kavanaugh have great significance due to the recent #MeToo movement which has shifted the cultural attitude from one of complacency towards the assault and harassment of women to one of awareness and action. In the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the allegations of gross sexual misconduct from three different women, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick should not be swept under the rug. His confirmation should not be something that is not questioned.
The three different women each have had different alleged experiences with Kavanaugh, although alcohol was involved in nearly all of them. This alcoholic influence has been used to attempt to discredit all of the alleged assaults, which all happened over twenty years ago.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who was the first to come forward, alleges that Kavanaugh tried to assault her while at a party in high school. She has recounted in a CNN report, “Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life.”
Loy Norrix freshman Faye Thomas believes Blasey Ford. She thinks these accusations are, “Disgusting,” and when asked if she believes his denials, she said, “No.”
Some officials, however, don’t have much confidence in the truth of Ford’s allegations, like Republican senator Orrin Hatch, who stated in a NY Post article that he believes that Ford may be, “mixed up.”
When Ford testified, the Republican senators on the committee directed their questions through veteran prosecutor Rachel Mitchell and attempted to discredit her by dissecting her fear of flying, referencing her flying on vacations and for work on multiple occasions. They also focused on the intoxication of both Kavanaugh and Ford during the alleged assault, questioning her ability to remember something that allegedly happened thirty years ago while she was under the influence. To their credit, Dr. Ford was unable to recall details such as how she got home from the party, how many people were at the party, and what exact year it occurred.
Republicans have been quick to defend Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump, someone who has faced numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, seemed to find a kinship with Kavanaugh, stating in a Politico article, “Does it affect me in terms of my thinking, with respect to Judge Kavanaugh? Absolutely. Because I’ve had it [accusations of sexual misconduct made] many times.”
The other two women to come forward with accusations, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, did not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to come forward, alleges that that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her at a college party, recounting to The New Yorker, “Brett was laughing, I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.”
Ramirez also said that she heard, “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ It was his full name. I don’t think it was just ‘Brett.’ And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there,” in the same New Yorker article.
Ramirez does, however, have significant gaps in her memory, being heavily intoxicated at the time. For this reason, her claims have been written off by most officials.
Kavanaugh himself responded to her claims before the hearing took place, stating, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.” This was published alongside Ramirez’s story in The New Yorker.
Julie Swetnick, the third woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct, says that she witnessed Kavanaugh conducting, “Abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts” according to a CNN article.
Her claims have been, like all the others, categorically denied by Kavanaugh.
Swetnick’s alleged incident also involves large amounts of alcohol, creating a common thread between each incident. In fact, most of the questions raised to Kavanaugh during his testimony concerned his alcohol consumption. He addressed his relationship with drinking in his younger days in his opening statement, saying, according to The Washington Post, “I drank beer with my friends, almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer.”
While his seemingly up-front nature about his youthful drinking appears harmless, others have a different story to tell. In that same Washington Post article, some of his college classmates describe him as “sloppy,” and “frequently incoherently drunk.”
Kavanaugh dodged many questions relating to drinking. For example, when Senator Amy Klobuchar inquired as to whether or not he has ever become blackout drunk, he responded in a defensive manner, as archived by The Washington Post, “You’re asking about blackout. I don’t know, have you?.”
Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, Kavanaugh’s consumption of alcohol is concerning. No citizen should want someone that is accused of frequently boozing it up, or someone that apparently becomes violent and incapable of making sound decisions while under the influence. While the actual allegations are very serious, the alcoholic implications that run throughout them may be even more serious. A Supreme Court Justice should not be under suspicion of sexual misconduct or of being under the influence frequently and being unable to make sound decisions when intoxicated.
Despite the #MeToo movement, the flood of workplace sexual misconduct allegations that has dominated the media in the past year, Republicans have been slow to recognize these allegations as significant. They were slow to request a hearing with Ford and the judge. While they eventually did, they missed a scheduled call with Deborah Ramirez’s lawyer to discuss her allegations. They were slow to demand an FBI investigation into the claims against their nominee, and although one was granted, it reportedly had a limited scope, not delving into his drinking history, despite it being a common theme in all of the alleged incidents. This geriatric pace leads many to believe that this is all for show. Their folly has apparently energized Democrats for the upcoming midterms. Political analysts have predicted a so-called “Blue Wave” of Democrats surging to vote. The “mishandling” of these allegations have unleashed anger and distrust in the democratic process by many, especially women.
Loy Norrix sophomore Megan Hybels was asked prior to Kavanaugh’s confirmation if she thought he would be confirmed, she stated, “I think that it’ll have an impact on how people respond to his confirmation, I think, no matter what, Trump’s still gonna want him appointed.”
The midterms, in fact, were the main reason behind the rush to get Kavanaugh confirmed, regardless of accusations raised against him. The fear that midterms might bring with them an influx of Democrats into the House of Representatives is a massive proponent of the rushed FBI investigations and the lack of testimony from Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.
This consideration for only their party and not the betterment of the country as a whole left myself and others discontented and disheartened with our current representatives. Regardless of which side of the aisle you sit on, most could probably agree that this confirmation was a folly on behalf of the government. Representatives put party over country and brought disgrace to the highest court in the land and disgrace to the country on the national stage.
While Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation story may not be over, the effects will continue to be felt for months, even years after it, as it has set a precedent for how future accusations of sexual misconduct will be handled.