D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was controversial and partisan as soon as it was announced, with both Republicans and Democrats arguing over his extensive governmental record and how he would rule on the court. What was already sure to be a hairline vote in the 51-49 Republican Senate due to high levels of protesters and pressure on certain blue-state Republicans to oppose his nomination, was thrown into further chaos last Sunday. News surfaced that Doctor Christine Blasey Ford, professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, had accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was in high school. Since then, two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have accused Kavanaugh of similar misconduct during his college years.
Currently the situation is largely “he said, she said,” with both Kavanaugh and the accusers either testifying or signing sworn declarations attesting to the truthfulness of the accounts. So much of the conversation surrounding this political theater is blindly supportive of the accusers or Kavanaugh along partisan lines, showing an egregious disregard for our sixth amendment. As much as certain people are quick to discredit allegations alone as damning to Kavanaugh, it is important to keep in mind one of the main tenets of our justice system- innocent until proven guilty. Victims of sexual assault deserve to be heard, but an accusation without evidence backing it up should not be enough alone to condemn the accused.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC 6
This is not to say that the accusations should be discredited and discarded, far from it in fact. Despite the fact that the release and handling of the allegations seems to be political opportunism on the part of Senate Democrats, the allegations should be thoroughly investigated in order to either uphold Kavanaugh’s innocence or condemn him. Especially when dealing with a lifetime appointment, no precaution is too great to ensure the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in the face of an increasingly divided political landscape. It is disgraceful that these allegations have been turned into a political circus instead of being a part of the vetting process. While it is debatable that the Federal Bureau of Investigation should be the agency to investigate the alleged crimes instead of the State Police, there certainly should be unbiased inquiries into the allegations.
When first beginning this article, it was my hope that what I outlined was possible. Earlier this morning however, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and made that hope an impossibility. This hearing, with a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation scheduled for Friday before either of them stepped through the door, was a sad excuse for due process. Both Ford and Kavanaugh simply reiterated their original positions and answered predictably political questions from the senators. In the end, nothing was accomplished aside from broadcasting the clear pain of a sexual assault survivor and the angry denials of a presumably innocent man. It is likely that Brett Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court by this time next week, with the political posturing of both Republicans and Democrats doing nothing but serve their own interests at the expense of the accused and the accuser.
Ryan is a sophomore Political Science major.