Sunday, July 21, 2024

Kavanaugh confirmation undermines Supreme Court

Appointments to the Supreme Court are important. The individuals who serve on the court are granted lifetime appointments to deal with important matters of the law, and the decisions they make will shape the history of our country. I kept these important facts in mind during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing and confirmation.

Kavanaugh’s hearing and confirmation was not the first time I watched an individual be considered for the highest court in the land.
I had watched Sonia Sotomayor go through the process in middle school. She was the first justice of Hispanic descent and the first Latina. Her appointment filled me with joy and hope.

She was the first of people who looked like her to make the court. It marked an important point in judicial history. The feelings I felt were happy, positive and hopeful.

The emotions I felt and still feel toward Kavanaugh’s confirmation are not positive. They are feelings of dread, dissatisfaction and sadness.
Watching Kavanaugh’s hearing following Christine Blasey Ford left a sickening taste in my mouth and a twinge in my stomach.

His behavior, language and demeanor is not the character I associate with a Supreme Court justice. I do not expect a Supreme Court justice to go on a partisan rant.

I do not expect them to lie about behaviors from their high school and college years, and I do not expect them to act similarly to the current President of the United States, who frequently speaks of witch hunts and conspiracies against them.

History has taught us about landmark cases like Brown vs. Board of Education, Loving vs. Virginia, Roe vs. Wade and Obergefell vs. Hodges. All of these cases certified unalienable rights for minorities, newly-freed slaves, LGBT individuals and women — important groups of people in this country with a history that tells of lack of access, the fight for equality in the eyes of law and the eventual access and equality being earned and acknowledged. The outcomes of these cases depended on in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and in the nine people chosen to sit upon it. Kavanaugh now joins them as one of the nine, pulling the court toward a more strongly conservative side.

History tells of Anita Hill in 1991 who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings. Her name is always associated with accusations of inappropriate behavior, so it came at no surprise that comparisons would be drawn between her and Christine Blasey Ford.

Hill wrote, “it’s impossible to miss the parallels between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing of 2018 and the 1991 confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas. In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court. It failed on both counts.”

I believe Anita Hill would agree that they failed again.

I can imagine that history books to come will mention the proceedings this fall and remark on the rhetoric around them. How the President of the United States commented that it is a scary time for boys right now. How two women angrily confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator over his statement that he would vote for Kavanaugh. How several Democratic senators decided to walk out of proceedings in the Judiciary Committee meeting when it became clear that he would still voted through despite the hearings.

The language, the protests, the high emotion and the high stakes all reflect a different standard than the one the Supreme Court holds in many minds. Supreme by definition means superior to all others. If one is superior doesn’t that mean they should be held to higher standards than others? The hearings and confirmation do not illustrate that and if anything call into question what the Court represents now.

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