Seventeen months ago, the nation’s eyes were on Mr. Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. In heated testimonies, the two presented their respective sides of the sexual allegations against Kavanaugh. While Ford remained calm— not to mention brave—the prospective Supreme Court justice was angered and deeply divisive in the process of answering questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh’s appointment itself was an emblem of the Trump presidency and was utilized to galvanize his base, knowing the conservatives who support him would rally around his judicial picks. While Kavanaugh’s appointment and subsequent confirmation had significant implications for the conversation around sexual violence survivors, the ramifications go well beyond that. In his active role in the judiciary, he has already been a point of controversy in many political situations. It is extremely important to acknowledge that he will continue to affect not just the judicial branch, but the trend of politics for years to come.
After Kavanaugh’s testimony, his judicial conduct was challenged by 83 different individuals and organizations ranging from citizens to professional lawyers. However, just recently, these misconduct claims were thrown out due to the fact that federal judicial conduct law only applies to the lower courts, not the Supreme Court. This incident revealed yet another loophole Kavanaugh had managed to exploit.
His partisanship is pervasive. It is evident that Kavanaugh took Trump’s side regarding the Mueller report, as he himself has stated that Trump should be exempt from “time-consuming and distracting” investigations. There is also rising demand that Kavanaugh recuse himself from several high-profile cases on the basis that many of these lawsuits are brought by liberal organizations such as the ACLU or NAACP, and Kavanaugh has previously publicly accused and attacked such groups.
Kavanaugh’s current and continuing impact on abortion cases is crucial to the conversation on reproductive rights. Recently, Louisiana implemented new legislation– the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act– that would have severely restricted abortion, leading to solely one doctor performing abortions at one clinic in the entire state.. The bill was blocked in the Supreme Court as (conservative) Chief Justice Roberts joined liberals to oppose the act, with a 5–4 vote. Kavanaugh not only voted in the minority, he vigorously advocated for the position; he wrote his own dissent explaining that America needs to give these new abortion laws a chance and see how they play out. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine received backlash after this case due to the fact that when she ultimately voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, she had assured the public that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade, yet his voting and advocacy record contradicts this. It is hard to keep faith in a judge who so clearly has contributed to the patriarchy of politics in government repeatedly.
Public distrust for Kavanaugh is clear. The justice was invited to teach a law course at George Mason University which sparked an uproar from students there who demanded that the invitation be rescinded. The ‘Mason for Survivors’ organization protested vigorously, stating that “there is a historic amount of institutional negligence” toward supporting survivors of sexual assault. Kavanaugh faced similar backlash when he was invited to Harvard Law school where a multitude of women self-selected out of his class.
In November of 2018, Kavanaugh faced his first case concerning the death penalty. In this incident, a Missouri inmate argued that he had a rare medical condition that would have led to severe pain during the lethal injection. The Supreme Court was split. The five conservatives ruled against his appeal and the four liberal justices dissented. While Kavanaugh originally seemed open to the other side, he ended up siding strongly with his conservative colleagues. The justice stated that the inmate should have proposed a more feasible alternative, “such as a firing squad.” His inflexibility and harshness in dealing with the case is a clear example of his continued irrationality in judicial affairs.
What is Dr. Christine Ford up to, you ask? She recently made a hefty donation to a charity that supports trauma and sexual assault survivors.