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Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Redrew Partisan Lines

Jacob Kaplan, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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After nearly a month following when his hearings began, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to be the ninth Supreme Court Justice on Saturday the sixth of October. Through the chaos of Democrats and Republicans yelling about a bipartisan Supreme Court, much of the actual conflict over the Court was drowned in symbolism. While the Court is supported to retain an objective and non-political stance, the confirmation of Kavanaugh had extraordinary political weight and it evolved from something of a small political conflict into a political battle that spread like wildfire over social media and separated Democrats and Republicans even more.

President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a sitting judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to the Supreme Court on July ninth earlier this year to fill the vacancy left by Justice Anthony in his retirement. The Senate Judiciary Committee to hear Kavanaugh began on September fourth and even on the first day, the hearing began to see its first moments of chaos with shouting protestors and the interruption of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) by Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) during his opening speech. The disruption only grew after that as Kavanaugh was questioned by the Senators on both sides of the political spectrum, with Kavanaugh refusing to answer some questions during the process out of a question of relevance. The fourth day of the hearings saw the testimonies of supporting and opposition arguments for Kavanaugh and it wasn’t for four days after the hearings had ended did the first origins of the heated debate over Kavanaugh begin with sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

Revealed on September sixteenth as a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had sent an anonymous letter to The Washington Post and Senator Dianne Feinstein detailing accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. Although Senator Feinstein held the letter for about a month between releasing it to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Committee did not vote on whether or not to confirm Kavanaugh to the entire Senate until they held additional testimonies of Dr. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford’s testimony included details about her entire experience at the party where she accused Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, a longtime friend of Kavanaugh, of attempted sexual assault. Her story is also reflected in her notes to her therapist, with some of the notes mentioning Kavanaugh by name while other notes omitting his name. Kavanaugh issued a statement through the Whitehouse that said: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time” while Dr. Ford remains adamant that he did. This sparked two other allegations against Kavanaugh: Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, both of whom accused Kavanaugh further of sexual assault and attempted rape. Even with these allegations, Kavanaugh was confirmed through the Senate Judiciary Hearing and onto the Senate, where Republican Senator Jeff Flake and several Democratic senators demanded an F.B.I. investigation. Trump issued the investigation and after a week, the findings were inconclusive. With no clear evidence being found proving or disproving either side, the Senate met on October fifth to begin final discussions, to which they concluded on October sixth with the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which was passed 50-48.

As many have seen on social media and the news, this entire issue goes deeper than just the election of a judge to the Supreme Court and both the Republicans and Democrats fought tooth and nail for the outcome that they desired. But before we go into the consequences of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, we should go into the past. Unlike the House of Representatives, the majority of the Senate makes its own rules of conduct, meaning that they can make decisions such as how long someone can speak for when making their argument. In 2010, the Democratic-controlled Senate banned the Filibustering of a bill so that they could pass it and when they lost control over the Senate, the Republicans, in retaliation, did not even hold hearings on a Democratic nominee for the Supreme Court. This began a sort of political arms race that caused for each side to play dirty for the passing of bills and other legislation. For Republicans, the confirmation of Kavanaugh was the securing of the final branch– the Judiciary– so that they would have control over all three branches of government. For Democrats, on the other hand, it was a stand against conservatism so that in the midterm elections that are coming up this November sixth, they would have a better chance to retake the House or Senate. With both Democratic and Republican sides already fired up politically, the Kavanaugh conflict goes past politics and into ideas of the Feminist Movement and the #Metoo Movement, to which many supporters of the movements are vehemently protesting the confirmation of Kavanaugh. The problem with the Kavanaugh conflict is that people with moderate political views were pushed to one side or the other–either for or against Kavanaugh– for the coming midterm elections and have divided the American people even further than before.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Kavanaugh_Supreme_Court_nomination

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/liberal-profs-launch-campaign-to-pack-supreme-court-after-kavanaugh-confirmation

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/06/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court.html

 

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Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Redrew Partisan Lines