Kavanaugh confirmed amid controversy

Thomas Searl, editor-in-chief

In late October, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh took his oath of office. His confirmation by the Senate Oct. 6 was shrouded with controversy, surrounding an allegation of sexual assault.

In early July, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford sent a letter to her congresswoman Anna Eshoo in which she outlined her allegations against Kavanaugh. Her allegations were taken to Dr. Ford’s senator in California, Dianne Feinstein, who did not take any action until over two weeks later, when she sent them to the FBI. Ford alleged that in an early ‘80s gathering with herself, Kavanaugh and anywhere from two to four more people, a high school-aged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

History teacher Dan Adelhardt said there was not enough evidence to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but if you can’t pin him down, then I think it’s probably closer to him not being the person [who assaulted Ford],” Adelhardt said. “I think people had a chance to voice what they needed to. I thought there was a thorough investigation. You’ve got two credible adults and they both have stories, and I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. The timing of it, I think, was wrong. If people knew about it earlier, they should have brought it out earlier.”

Senior Catherine Magaña, a member of the debate team who has researched this topic extensively, said Kavanaugh should not have been confirmed.

“Assumptions that people are always innocent until proven guilty are also dangerous [like assumptions that people are automatically guilty],” Magaña said. “Victim-shaming needs to stop. A personal high school calendar is much less credible than a testimony. Even if you don’t believe that, Kavanaugh’s volatile and immature demeanor he displayed during the hearings, when faced with the accusations, and general questions from the Senators, should clearly signal that he is not fit to serve on our nation’s highest court. The rush to confirm Kavanaugh and the lack of thorough investigation and review will set a negative precedent for the future of the legal system that will only continue to harm those the government claims to protect.”

Walking in the Capitol building, Vice President Mike Pence escorts Judge Brett Kavanaugh to his confirmation hearings July 10. The hearings were marked by accusations from Democrats and fervent support from Republicans. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Adelhardt said the confirmation battle is indicative of a divided country.

“I think it’s a direct impact of how partisan our politics have become,” Adelhardt said. “Having a good person with a quality record is not good enough anymore—it’s party lines. It’s unfortunate, the hatred and the agendas that are out there to get people on the court.”

Magaña said Kavanaugh’s emotions and his apparent bias as he responded to the inquiries of senators should have disqualified him.

“I think the Supreme Court is ideally meant to be a non-partisan body,” Magaña said. “Kavanaugh demonstrated his extreme right-wing leanings over the course of the hearings. Being more conservative does not equal being more constitutional. Obviously, nobody is completely centrist, but his obvious bias is concerning.”

Adelhardt said the divisiveness that has characterized this process is negative for the country.

“I wish our parties had the best interest of Americans in their minds, rather than just getting re-elected,” Adelhardt said. “We’ve become so partisan, so vicious to each other, and as an average American, it’s frustrating. Do they really want what’s best for us? This country is built on compromise and you’ve gotta think about what’s best for America.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and the allegations leveled against him dominated the news cycle for weeks, bringing national attention to many related topics. One such topic was how what someone does in high school could be viewed in the context of their adulthood.

“I do not believe that the issue of when it [allegedly] happened should matter,” Magaña said. “Behavior like this is not erased by age. However, time currently matters in the legal context—these limitations and mandates should be reviewed and updated to ensure fair application of the law in all instances.”