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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 21, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Kavanaugh’s confirmation causes controversy

President Donald Trump held a ceremonial swearing-in for the newest Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, at the White House on Monday, Oct. 8. This event followed the official swearing-in of Kavanaugh that took place in the Justices’ Conference Room on Oct. 6.

At the beginning of the ceremonial swearing-in, Trump addressed the crowd briefly and apologized to Kavanaugh and his family for the sexual assault allegations Kavanaugh faced prior to his swearing-in. He referred to the accusations as being cause for the “terrible pain and suffering” Kavanaugh and his family were “forced to endure.”

“Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction,” Trump said. “What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process.”

The statement added further controversy to the already controversial appointment of Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice. On Oct. 6, Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court by a 50-48 vote in the Senate — the narrowest Supreme Court justice vote in modern history — almost entirely divided by party lines.

These narrow results were due to the sexual misconduct accusations made against Kavanaugh during the weeks leading up to his appointment. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick all publically accused him of sexually aggressive behavior or sexual assault and described alleged instances that occurred both while Kavanaugh was in high school and in college.

Hillary Clinton, former first lady, Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate, criticized Trump’s statements at the swearing-in as undermining the Supreme Court on Oct. 9. Clinton told CNN that the swearing-in lacked integrity.

“What was done last night in the White House was a political rally,” Clinton said. “It further undermined the image and integrity of the court.”

Out of the three women, Ford was asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In an emotional and tense hearing Sept. 27, Ford stood by her claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her with a fellow classmate while they were both in high school. In an emotional testimony, Kavanaugh stood by his claim that he was innocent of the assault.

Kavanaugh was criticized as having a lack of composure and unprofessional responses at his hearing. The popular television shows Saturday Night Live and South Park both aired skits or scenes criticizing Kavanaugh and the hearing. In order to “even the playing field,” as Trump told a CBS reporter, the president mocked Ford’s testimony at a rally in Mississippi on Oct. 2.

Kavanaugh’s nomination, hearing and appointment have all invoked the wrath of the #MeToo movement and have contributed to the growing popularity of the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors. Protestors swarmed Washington, D.C., in the days before, during and after Kavanaugh’s hearing, after the hearing and following his appointment.

On Oct. 6, the day of Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court justice confirmation, over 150 protestors were arrested for refusing to leave the steps of the Supreme Court Building. The vast majority of these protestors were women, victims of sexual assault and their allies. Many of the protestors held signs alluding to Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault or referencing the testimony provided by Ford.

Despite previously being detained, many protestors returned to the Supreme Court Building to protest the debut of Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice Oct. 9. The protestors included a group of 40 women, who arrived at the court at 7 a.m. to greet Kavanaugh when he arrived at the back entrance.

One of the protestors was 20-year-old Jasmine Morales, who told USA Today she was inspired by her fellow protestors, whom she spent a brief time with while in prison following the Oct. 6 protests, which is why she continued to protest after being released.

“If I can continue to fight for people, then I will,” Morales said.

Meredith Burke can be reached at mburke@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meredithsburke