Brett Kavanaugh: A Summary

The Senate recently voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, with a vote of 48-50. This follows an FBI investigation into several allegations of sexual misconduct.

Last week, Doctor Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was “100% certain” a sexual assault upon her 36 years ago was committed by Judge Kavanaugh. The nominee vehemently denied these allegations.

Professor Ford alleges that Kavanaugh tried to force himself upon her at a small gathering in 1982, describing how she was pinned to a bed by Kavanaugh as he drunkenly groped her, fearing being killed when he allegedly covered her mouth as she screamed. Further to this, Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate, told the New Yorker that he exposed himself to her at a university party and Julie Swetnick says that she was a victim of gang rape at a 1982 party Kavanaugh attended.

On social media last Thursday #KavanaughHearings trended globally all day as the world finally heard from Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, who testified with very different tones. Through tears, Kavanaugh furiously denied any allegations and accused the Democrats of orchestrating a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination”.

When originally taken to the senate, the nomination received a party line vote of 11-10 and was then delayed until a full FBI investigation had been completed as Arizona senator Jeff Flake made his vote conditional on a probe taking place. Swing voters Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Joe Manchin subsequently backed an investigation before voting to confirm Kavanaugh. During the investigation, neither the accused nor accuser were interviewed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the findings of the investigation will not be made public.

Following Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the future Supreme Court and U.S. law could be tipped in favour of the Republicans, as judges hold the position for life and have the final say on contentious points of U.S. law. This is not guaranteed, however. Judge Anthony Kennedy, who has been replaced by Kavanaugh, was often the swing vote on many divisive issues, such as the decision in Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992) which upheld the decision made in Roe v Wade [1973] 410 U.S. 113, where a majority decision extended the rights under the 14thAmendment to include access to abortion. Many women now hold concerns that Kavanaugh’s nomination will strike down the ruling, something that Trump promised on his campaign trail.

The case has gained global attention, sparking a divisive range of opinions. Many have compared it to Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony that accused the U.S. Supreme Court nominee, now judge, Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Others feel that this has been an abuse of the nomination process, based on partisanship and an attempt to garner power by the Democrats, suggesting that Ford’s allegations are uncorroborated and lack credibility. Opposers of this have been angered by how quickly some of the right wing dismissed the allegations as a political smear campaign. Many also believe that the FBI investigation was a farce by the Republicans. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Dianne Feinstein has notably claimed that the White House appeared to have “blocked the FBI from doing its job”and that the report was “very limited” as “a product of an incomplete investigation”.

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