Supreme Court justices have been selected for their partisanship rather than legal prowess for decades, arguably undermining the efficacy and original intent of the Court, but Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings are the final nail in the coffin for American morality and constitutional respect on the Court. And the fault lies entirely at the feet of the Republican Party.
Like his predecessors, Kavanaugh’s nomination is being rammed through Congress because of his political views and the likelihood that his tie-breaker vote in critical Supreme Court cases will support the Republican Party’s agenda. Republicans are attempting to wrap up the confirmation process before the midterm elections, when Democrats may take control of Congress and be able to derail Kavanaugh’s now all-but-assured nomination.
But what makes the push to confirm Kavanaugh particularly heinous is that he is not merely being selected because of his conservative beliefs. He is being selected because of his conservative beliefs and in spite of his possible violation of the law in an attempted rape. The Republican Party in Congress is signaling that it values confirming one of their own to the Court over the law of the land and basic human decency.
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To be clear, it is too early to say whether or not Kavanaugh is guilty of attempted rape. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, alleges that the assault took place over thirty years ago, and there have been mixed reactions from Kavanaugh and Ford’s ex-classmates about whether the allegation is credible. It is worth noting, however, that Dr. Ford passed a polygraph and has documentation beginning back in 2012 of the effect the assault has had on her life. But whether or not Kavanaugh is guilty is besides the point (though it should go without saying that he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if he is).
Even if the allegation is erroneous, Congress is obligated by basic human decency, our shared morals as a nation, and the law to take Ford’s accusation seriously, even if it means delaying Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Yet the Republican Party intends to move forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, disregarding calls by Dr. Ford and the public for an FBI investigation.
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Hearings began on September 27, in which Dr. Ford testified about the alleged assault before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although the Republican Party allowed Dr. Ford the opportunity to share her story, this does not constitute a fair and good faith effort to discern the truth. They have forbidden a nonpartisan, FBI investigation, and have not allowed a full background investigation of others involved in the assault, nor demanded that they testify. One example of this is Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s childhood friend who Dr. Ford says witnessed the assault, who has not been subpoenaed to testify.
In essence, the hearings are cathartic for sexual assault victims at best, and merely a show so that the Republican Party can claim it didn’t completely ignore Dr. Fords allegations at worst. This is a wicked, deplorable attempt by the Republicans in Congress to install one of their own on the bench, at the expense of the ideals of justice and morality they once claimed to represent.
The Republican Party, which once stood as an exemplar of morality, small government, and more to its followers, is dead. In its place is a party which has no regard for ethics, basic human decency, or even the laws which govern our land. Kavanaugh’s hearings are nothing but a joke now; a mockery of the system intended to uphold justice, a circus in which the tricks Republicans pull to avoid confronting a damaging truth get zanier and zanier.
This is all to say nothing of the fact that, should Kavanaugh be confirmed and even cleared of Dr. Ford’s allegations by a nonpartisan investigation, his own interpretations of the law may further undermine American ethics and constitutional respect. It is no coincidence that Kavanaugh holds views on the power of the executive that would be useful to President Trump, should the Russia inquiry accuse him of wrongdoing.
The Republican Party doesn’t have to keel over and die like this. It could, though the journey would be arduous, reclaim its moral soul even after years of neglect. And the very first step would be to take Dr. Ford’s claims seriously, and vote not to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate.