On Brett Kavanaugh

It+is+the+duty+of+the+legislature+to+ensure+that+wealth+%28and+income%2C+by+default%29+is+not+concentrated+in+the+hands+of+a+powerful+few%2C+because+to+do+so+is+to+begin+destroying+the+fabric+of+America.
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On Brett Kavanaugh

It is the duty of the legislature to ensure that wealth (and income, by default) is not concentrated in the hands of a powerful few, because to do so is to begin destroying the fabric of America.

It is the duty of the legislature to ensure that wealth (and income, by default) is not concentrated in the hands of a powerful few, because to do so is to begin destroying the fabric of America.

graphic by Alex Flagg

It is the duty of the legislature to ensure that wealth (and income, by default) is not concentrated in the hands of a powerful few, because to do so is to begin destroying the fabric of America.

graphic by Alex Flagg

graphic by Alex Flagg

It is the duty of the legislature to ensure that wealth (and income, by default) is not concentrated in the hands of a powerful few, because to do so is to begin destroying the fabric of America.

Roshie Xing, Contributing Author

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Theodore Roosevelt once proclaimed that “we have a right to demand that our judiciary should be kept beyond reproach.” A seat on the any court, especially the highest court of the land, is a privilege that carries with it a weighty responsibility to check the powers of other branches and ensure the adherence of American governance to the United States Constitution. It also requires the lifting of partisan lenses, for a Supreme Court justice’s duty is not to those that nominated him or her but to the American people and Constitution.

Brett M. Kavanaugh was nominated on July 9, 2018 to the Supreme Court of the United States. In his youth, he attended Georgetown Preparatory, a private high school in Washington, D.C. His friend Mark Judge –the boy who stood by as Kavanaugh supposedly committed sexual assault–wrote a book called “Wasted: Tales of A GenX Drunk” that described underage drunkenness at Georgetown Prep, directly implicating someone named “Bart O’Kavanaugh” in the tales. Very subtle. At Yale Law School, Kavanaugh was a member of two fraternities notorious for demeaning women and drinking, one of “no means yes” fame. Although Kavanaugh himself may not have participated in his fraternities’ rampant harassment, he nevertheless came of age within a casually misogynistic environment.

The Supreme Court makes decisions that will affect Americans for generations. Is it unfair, then, to ask that Brett Kavanaugh be held accountable for his past actions?”

Following his time at Yale, Kavanaugh joined the Ken Starr investigation, where he urged graphic questions to be asked to Monica Lewinsky, seeking to force President Clinton to resign by broadcasting his actions to the public, “piece by painful piece.” If only Kavanaugh held himself to the same standard. He then clerked under Judge Alex Kosinski, who resigned this year after accusations of pervasive sexual harassment. Kavanaugh then spent time on the Bush White House legal counsel team during which Republican Senate aide Manny Miranda stole documents from Senate Democrats; emails released show them being forwarded to Kavanaugh with the subject of “Spying.” Seriously, if you’re committing a crime, at least be discreet about it. In the years since, Kavanaugh has vacillated his narrative on receiving these documents, claiming both that he never received any stolen documents (lie) and that even if he had, such theft was and is normal (lie). Though it appears minute, these repeated lies under oath show a continued aversion to truth. It is especially ironic that though legal scholars question whether his lies can be deemed perjury, Kavanaugh sought to impeach Bill Clinton for less.

How, then, would a Justice Kavanaugh rule? From his past decisions, he would allow the government greater surveillance powers. He would drastically reduce regulation, arguing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau–created after the 2008 financial crisis to prevent lenders from defrauding Americans–and other regulatory institutions are unconstitutional. He would likely protect the president from indictment, a dramatic turn of opinion from his time on the Starr investigation. And finally, he would most certainly restrict women’s rights to choice, attempting to limit contraception access and seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. Though he has little paper trail on this topic, in Garza v. Hargan (2018), he supported the government’s attempts to block a 17-year old immigrant–seeking refuge in the US from abusive parents–from having a legal abortion. Kavanaugh evidently thought that she–the same age as he was when his attempted rape allegedly occurred–was old enough for a teenage mistake to impact her life. Perhaps his defenders, who claim that even if it happened, his alleged sexual assault is irrelevant because “what boy hasn’t done this in high school,” should take heed and let his past affect his present.

That, of course, brings me to those allegations against Kavanaugh. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a Stanford-affiliated professor whose research focuses on resilience after trauma. In speeches to her students, she told them “you can always recover,” not realizing that her own resilience would be tested against a committee that has asked her the same litany of questions all victims are faced with: what was she wearing, was she drinking, why didn’t she fight back. Dr. Blasey alleges that a 17-year-old Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, a freshman. When she tried to scream, fearing for her life, he covered her mouth. Her allegations, submitted before Kavanaugh’s nomination, are credible and have been thoroughly investigated; a pattern of abuse has been established with two other women coming forward. What Dr. Blasey describes is not just sexual misconduct or harassment, but sexual assault, a crime in all 50 states. The claims against Kavanaugh underpin a viewpoint in which the victim–a girl younger than many NASH students–is denied her right to bodily integrity. This belief carries a dangerous connotation, especially at a time in which a woman’s right to her body is so tenuous.

Immediately following the accusation, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee published a letter of 65 women who claimed that Brett Kavanaugh never assaulted them in high school (high bar!), impressive given that he attended an all-boys school. I can only hope that, if I were to be accused of some life-shattering thing, 65 of my peers will remember me well enough to produce a letter of support so expeditiously.  This letter discredits victims, suggesting that if a man is not a monster to all the women he encounters, he must be a good man. Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey have since testified on Thursday. She presented her case with heartfelt sincerity and rationality, almost apologizing for inconveniencing the committee; he screamed angrily at senators (especially female senators) and cried (on a woman, this look would be deemed “hysterical”). These hearings are a job interview, not a trial, but Senate Republicans are denying any further investigation, instead speeding towards a committee vote today and confirmation vote Saturday.

Some have argued that these accusations are suspiciously timed, a sort of last ditch effort by Democrats to stop Kavanaugh’s sure confirmation. First, though Democrats opposed Neil Gorsuch, especially with the sting of Merrick Garland still fresh, no accusations were made about him. And secondly, what has played out today shows exactly why victims take so long to speak out and why Dr. Blasey did not want to make her allegations public. She released her name only because reporters threatened to leak it. She has had her character besmirched, her reputation dissected by analysts because heaven forbid she be anything less than a perfect victim. Her two children–one a fifteen year old boy who could be one of our peers–require an escort to go to school. She has been forced to leave her home because of credible threats against her life. She knows that a man accused of arguably worse crimes already sits on the Supreme Court and that her life will never be the same. But she has spoken out. These are not the actions of a woman seeking attention or political gain.

The Supreme Court makes decisions that will affect Americans for generations. Is it unfair, then, to ask that Brett Kavanaugh be held accountable for his past actions? When a woman reported Brock Turner’s assault immediately after the fact, his defenders argued that he should be granted leniency because he had such a bright future in front of him. Dr. Blasey has reported her allegations many years later and Kavanaugh’s defenders argue that, even if they happened, they should still not matter, because why should a teenage mistake tarnish a man’s legacy and future? When, then, should assault be reported? How much “future” do privileged males get? Kavanaugh and his defenders–and nearly all males accused of misconduct–seek to pit his pain and consequences to his career from being accused against the pain of the women accusing him. It is clear whose pain society tells us to care about more.

To close, I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh meets Theodore Roosevelt’s standards of a judge whose character is “beyond reproach.” He has repeatedly dissembled under oath. His career has been one of extreme partisanship, and it is doubtful that he will uphold the judiciary’s independence. And finally, there are credible allegations of sexual assault to his name. As senators yukked it up with him about the girls’ basketball team he coached and his wonderful carpool parenting, victims around the country were reminded, once again, that their stories do not matter to those in power; multiple senators have stated that the allegations, even if true, will not change their “yes” vote. We teenagers have been reminded that “boys will be boys” is excuse enough for privileged boys who will grow up to become privileged men. Though this nomination doesn’t appear to affect our immediate lives, if approved, Brett Kavanaugh will be deciding crucial cases on the Supreme Court for the majority of our adulthood on salient topics from affordable contraception access to mandatory school prayer. His is a lifetime appointment. I thus oppose Brett Kavanaugh not only because I disagree with him ideologically but because he is fundamentally unfit and his character unbecoming of a justice of the highest court in this country, an institution that ought to be above partisan politics and an institution whose members this generation’s children ought to be able to look up to.

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