The Aftermath of Kavanaugh’s Confirmation

Darya Foroohar, ‘20

October 2018

To be a Supreme Court justice is to hold one of the most powerful positions in the country, as one vote could decide a case that would have monumental impacts on U.S. policy, checks and balances, and human rights. It is not supposed to be an office influenced by partisan politics, but as we all know, this is a naively optimistic declaration. The Supreme Court justices of today are just as divided by party lines as politicians. Kavanaugh’s confirmation is the perpetuation of this division, as well as the affirmation that the American democratic system is failing, for an accused rapist was nominated to the highest court in the country. Politicians are so concerned about getting one of their own onto a position that is supposed to be unaffected by political parties that they will support anyone of their party that is nominated. While being a good representative of your political party is important for an elected official, being part of a hive mind will only destroy our country’s capacity for free thought and intellectual debate, characteristics vital for connecting with those of different beliefs than oneself.

As someone with liberal views, I disagree with Kavanaugh’s beliefs because I support a woman’s right to choose whether she will have a baby, as well as believe there should be appropriate limitations on presidential power. If someone with opposing political views wishes to have a respectful debate with me, I will listen to them and try to understand their opinion as long as they do not disrespect me or other human beings. I have always thought (or hoped) that people in positions of power would do the same and not use their influence to spread hate and violence. Thus, when I first heard about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee  Brett M. Kavanaugh, a small part of me tried to make sense of the situation, to make what should be unacceptable more bearable. Maybe he’s changed, maybe he regretted his decisions and strove to improve himself, I tried to convince myself, desperately seeking to find a reason why Kavanaugh could possibly be fit for a position as esteemed as the Supreme Court. After learning about his anti-abortion views and beliefs that presidential power should have far fewer checks, I realized that this was only wishful thinking. Even if he had changed, he has exhibited behavior that should be unacceptable for a Supreme Court justice, who is expected to be honest, calm under pressure, and able to view a situation from multiple perspectives. Besides, these standards are hardly binding, as the confirmation of Clarence Thomas has proven. Kavanaugh’s confirmation mirrors that of Justice Thomas, who was also accused of sexual harassment prior to his own confirmation, and shows that one does not need to abide by a code of respect and honor to be appointed to the highest court in the country.

An analysis of Kavanaugh’s stance on abortion reveals misogynistic ideas that are shared by every sexual assaulter to some extent. Taking abortion away from women shows an unhealthy desire to control a portion of the population who do not need restrictions from ignorant officials, and his support of lifting the president above the law is a direct parallel to how many men walk free after assaulting someone. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, only 0.6 percent of reported sexual assaulters are incarcerated (not including the 69 percent of cases that never get reported to the police) and it seems likely that Justice Kavanaugh wants to keep it that way.

Now, the possibility of reproductive rights being taken away is too great to mention lightly, and millions of women in the United States have been informed through the confirmation that their government does not take their sexual assault seriously. Women are constantly under pressure to be pretty, demure, and submissive while simultaneously being mocked for being vain, shy, and unambitious-- the very things we are told we should be doing also make up what brings us down. The feminist movement is often portrayed as angry, ugly white women screaming “death to men.” Those creating this slander are obviously spreading fallacies: feminism is about creating gender equity, not about hating men; people of color, while much underappreciated for their contributions, are a vital force in keeping feminism alive and lifting up those less privileged than themselves. But these representations, through their stereotypes, are targeting the rage of women, something considered ugly, unfeminine, and strictly prohibited by those who want to keep women silent. They are fueled by fear of women using their voices to demand male accountability for their actions and use that fear to create a false, twisted image of the feminist movement. While rage should never be used for death threats against men, it is a good tactic against those who, time and time again, will not listen to reasonable debate or requests by women. And so, women, when not having been granted rights, are now fighting to claim them, as they have been doing for hundreds of years.

This fight must not be made up of just protests, petitions, and demonstrations, though these can be influential in garnering support for the movement. Voting is crucial to put people who care about your rights in positions where they can defend them. Midterm elections are on November 6th, so vote if you are eligible, and if you cannot, tell those who can to vote. Ask the father who thinks Kavanaugh’s hearing is just an example of “boys being boys” if he would feel the same way if his daughter was raped. Ask the person who thinks their vote doesn’t count to consider what would happen if everyone thought the same way. Ask the person who doesn’t vote because democracy is failing if they are part of the problem. For apathy in the face of oppression, especially that of other people is what contributes to the sectarianism of the U.S.  Even within the Democratic and Republican parties there is infighting due to contrasting views about small-scale issues. Partisan conflict has made a mockery of those who tried to warn the country about Kavanaugh. It is what divides the Supreme Court, and it has shown that the core values of the people of this country are starkly divided, an ugly truth about the nation that must be addressed if we are to progress any further. But do not wait for someone else to address it, as the recent events have proven it is naive to believe others will care about your rights if they do not benefit. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think your actions will count. Your very action is an act of resistance against those who rely on your fear, who do not want you to act at all. Make them scared.