Brett Kavanaugh has been officially confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, and no one can stop talking about it. After a 50-48 victory in the Senate, a man accused of sexual assault will be making decisions on behalf of our country. With the exception of Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote split cleanly down party lines. While it is understandable for Republicans to want another conservative seat on the bench, it is peculiar that a tainted candidate and an accused criminal can be met with such a neat decision, especially in consideration of his poor conduct during the hearing (i.e. avoidance, rage, tears and beers). Kavanaugh’s confirmation tally is similar to those of Eric S. Dreiband and Jeffrey Bossert Clark, who were confirmed as assistant attorneys general with 50-47 and 52-45 votes by the Senate, respectively. Kavanaugh is a reported assailant; Dreiband and Clark are not, and yet elected officials are treating them the same way.
Unfortunately, this is not a first. In 1991, Anita Hill testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was accused of sexual harassment, and he was confirmed 52-48. The breakdown of this vote was less predictable than the 2018 case, as eleven Democrats and two Republicans did not vote according to plan, but it was divided and balanced. Still, the situations are not identical. Zooming away from the Senate floor, we get a better sense of humanity during both years, something that cannot be lost in the wake of violence. After the decision was made, President George H.W. Bush, who nominated Thomas, reminded the country of his positive traits, and Thomas said “this is more a time for healing, not a time for anger or animus or animosity.” Twenty-seven years later, President Donald Trump mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s accuser, saying that 2018 is a “scary time” for men.
The key aspect in the case of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is trauma, and as Dr. Ford delivered her testimony, the public relived that trauma. The pain that one woman is still carrying after 36 years has gotten caught in the same partisan fog as budget allocation. An extra nay has resulted in a (new) lifelong position of power for Kavanaugh.
The fact that this is What’s Left’s second consecutive week dedicated to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation underscores an interesting time in politics. One could say that it is an exciting representation of the #MeToo movement’s success, once-hidden stories bubbling to the surface, but as we are seeing here, more attention does not mean more justice. Survivors are tired; allies are tired. When deeply personal issues such as rape, gun violence and family separation are fated to a vote, and these votes are historically predictable, what is left behind?
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