30 October 2018
By Shannon Tyler
On Friday, October 5 Senators voted to confirm Supreme Court appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, a decision that could potentially change Judicial decisions for decades to come. Senators confirmed Kavanaugh a week after a Senate hearing on sexual assault allegations against him. Statements were made from both Kavanaugh and the woman who came forward after 3 decades, Christine Blasey Ford.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court affected the nation in more ways than one. Firstly, the court more seemingly partisan than ever will affect the Judicial decisions for decades to come and with the sexual assault allegations, what message his confirmation sends to victims across the nation.
Kavanaugh, who is a confirmed Republican replaced former Justice Anthony Kennedy who frequently swung with his ideologies. Kavanaugh’s addition to the court created a now 5 to 4 Republican court becoming almost as partisan as the Senate itself. Democrats are worried for the future of social issues up for debate however Kavanaugh did state he believed that Roe v. Wade, one issue Democrats are concerned with, was settled law.
However, Kavanaugh did prove to be quite partisan during his opening statements in the hearing and Jamie Floyd, an American attorney and journalist, comments on his partisanship saying, “…now he’s going to have to convince people that some of those words that were spoken and he wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, that he was speaking as a son, as a father and as a husband, perhaps not as a jurist but now he has to be a jurist on the highest court in the land.”
The best thing for people do is now is have faith in the court and its fairness. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor explain this to an audience of alumni at the She Roars Conference at Princeton University on October 5. The two Justices answered questions regarding the state of the court after Kavanaugh replaced Justice Kennedy. Kagan admitted they were not sure if the court would have a swing Justice in the next decade but she reassured the people that while the court may be partisan, they tend to agree on more issues than the public realizes.
While the Supreme Court may agree on much more than the public realizes, there are key issues up for debate. One is that of sexual assault. Republican senators argued that the hearing was unjustified because it did not follow the principle under due process innocent until proven guilty.
Along with due process, President Donald Trump, along with other politicians argued that if Dr Ford’s accusations were serious she would have reported right after it happened; however, studies say that many victim do not report right away or even at all. In a study from 2010 to 2014, U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey found that 2 out of 3 cases of rape go unreported. There are different reasons for why victims do not report; victims’ fear of retaliation from rapist, they think police will not be helpful, they do not want the rapist to get in trouble, and among other reasons, they are unsure if what they went through is legally rape.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, says, “Sexual assault victims who summon the courage to report the crime to the police are often subjected to a criminal justice system that seems intensive, uncaring, or even hostile to victims. Over time, police have learned how they interact with victims plays a huge role in their willingness to come forward.”
Although many Senators believed Dr. Ford and her accusations, more believed there was not sufficient evidence to prove it in the eyes of the law. Dr. Ford’s courage for reporting, even as late as she did, did not go unnoticed. Dr. Ford sparked a movement of victims coming out and women supporting them. Protests were held during the hearings and hashtags went viral all in support of Dr. Ford and women bravery. Men and women alike shared their stories on social media using #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport to encourage more people to know they are not alone.
What won Kavanaugh the confirmation was the argument of due process and the value of innocent until proven guilty. This created a U.S. Judicial branch unlike anything seen in decades along with a fight for victims to be heard and believed setting up the basis for issues the Supreme Court and the people will face again.