On July 9, President Donald Trump appointed US circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. This appointment followed the retirement of Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, who served for 30 years.
Following Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment, there have been numerous formal and informal investigations into his past court decisions and his character as a person overall. Although many members of Congress objected to Kavanaugh’s nomination, there seemed to be no serious threats to Kavanaugh being confirmed as a Supreme Court justice until recently.
On September 16, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, claimed that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both in high school. Kavanaugh quickly and vehemently denied these claims during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. On September 23, another woman claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both in college at Yale University.
Many conservative politicians are claiming that these allegations are just an attempt by Democrats to prevent Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the lifelong position of Supreme Court Justice. According to CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that Democrats were performing a “shameful, shameful smear campaign.”
“The Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man,” President Trump tweeted, “and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever, with an array of False Accusations the likes of which have never been seen before!”
It can be expected in the bipartisan world of politics that Democrats would fight hard to prevent this conservative nominee from being confirmed by the Senate. It can be expected that Republicans would fight hard to protect their nominee and stick by his side to ensure that he is confirmed by the Senate.
But the question is, where do Kavanaugh’s accusers fit into all of this political firestorm, especially in the age of the #MeToo movement? It is a movement that aims to bring awareness to the prevalence of sexual assault; many male politicians, celebrities, business people and others have had their careers ruined due to allegations of sexual assault.
Ever since the movement began in late 2017, many in the country have felt divided on the sincerity of some of these claims—claims that have brought down politicians like Al Franken and film producers like Harvey Weinstein.
Some see the movement as a cleansing of sexist industries that protect and therefore promote sexual assault. Others see the movement as something that has good intentions but is being hijacked to destroy the lives of the accused for various ulterior motives. Whichever camp you fall into, these situations bring up good opportunities to ask very important questions about sexual assault.
For instance, is it ever too late to say that you’ve been sexually assaulted? Should an accusation of sexual assault be enough for someone to lose a political or high-profile position? Should confirmation of sexual assault be enough for someone to lose their political or high-profile position? Can anyone really prove in a court of law that someone was sexually assaulted 30 or more years after it happened?
These are the questions the Senate Judiciary Committee must consider, and they are questions that many citizens will be asking themselves for the next couple of weeks. The answers, whatever they may be, will have a serious impact on the U.S. Supreme Court and our society as a whole for generations to come.