A Pivotal Moment In History: The Kavanaugh Hearing

Lena Armstrong and Estelle Atkinson

Americans have been forced to contemplate the reality of our divided nation.  Parents asked, “What am I supposed to tell my daughters when they ask why this is happening?”

On Thursday, September 27, more than 20 million people watched the Kavanaugh Hearing.

Some watched from their homes, some from their offices. For some of us students, we watched from our classrooms or through headphones walking down the hallways. We witnessed students come out of the Viewpoints on Modern America classroom with tears streaming down their faces. From the moment Dr. Christine Blasey Ford swore under oath to deliver a truthful testimony, we were witnessing history in the making. The Viewpoints teacher, Mr. Wright, likened it to a “where were you when” moment. This is a pivotal moment in time: the fate of equality and justice lie in the hands of our current administration.

During the historical hearing, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Brett Kavanagh of sexual assault because she felt it was her “civic duty” to do so.  She risked public ridicule and her emotional stability, in order to provide the Senate more information. She explains, “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life.”  She is a professor of psychology affiliated with Stanford University and Palo Alto University. Dr. Ford showed off her expertise in the Hearing through her explanations of terms describing the emotional effects and lingering consequences of having been assaulted as a teenager.

Kavanaugh denies that the incident occurred and claims, “My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional allegations.”  While some argue that the allegations were intentionally timed to delay the confirmation hearing, we must investigate the facts around the case and the nature of the #MeToo movement, before making a judgment. The #MeToo movement empowers men and women to come forward with their experiences of sexual misconduct, in order to create an environment in which reporting incidents hurts the predators rather than the victims.

Our nation heard Dr. Christine Blasey Ford state that she is 100% certain Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Later that day, Brett Kavanaugh stated that he is 100% sure the event never happened. One, and only one, of these people is telling the truth. Our president, Republican congressmen and women, and citizens of this nation are showing us that our society is conditioned to believe men.

Donald Trump once said the following about women in a video with Access Hollywood: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything…… Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.” At the time this video came out, so many people thought that it meant the end of Trump’s campaign. The then Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told Trump, “You have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.” CNN exit polls reported that 70% of voters were bothered by the way Trump treated women, yet a third of these people would go on to vote for him.

Trump’s victory signified the power of partisan politics in its purest and ugliest form. Trump led a campaign riddled with controversy, and his approval ratings have remained consistently low. He was elected to undo the work of the Obama administration, and to instate or re-instate long-lasting conservative values into legislature and society. At the heart of this sits the almost unfettered power and influence of the Supreme Court.  In several ways, Brett Kavanaugh will be Trump’s legacy.

There seems to be a lack of separation between current American politics and the US Supreme Court. Kavanaugh illustrated during his testimony his defensive technique of avoiding questions, somewhat illogical displays of pathos, loyalty to the Republican party, and loathing of the Democratic party. These traits characterize him as far more as a politician than an impartial judge.

Although we may never have concrete evidence that will prove Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony represents the veritable truth, we will forever have a fundamental distrust for Brett Kavanaugh. While he is potentially guilty of sexual assault and lying under oath, conservatives nationwide are potentially guilty of denying the situation to fit their political agenda.

Their main objective is to have a conservative majority on the Supreme Court in order to monopolize the judiciary branch and perhaps overturn legislation such as Roe V. Wade. Hot button issues have become increasingly more important than the person in charge of dealing with them. While this is not entirely unreasonable, it can have severe limitations and consequences.

With elections coming up, Republicans are eager to secure Kavanaugh’s nomination. Trump has obviously been instrumental in this. On October 3rd, Trump said, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America.”  

Frankly, this is an absurd comments to make. Should we look for a silver lining, we might realize that finally men are scared of getting caught. But this is not what Trump meant.  Instead, he highlighted the purely political nature of all these recent accusations. He is not the only man fearing for his sons; Michael Caputo, former Trump campaign aide, delivered the following anger-riddled remark on CNN last week: “Here’s the downside of this. From now on, every mother of sons, every grandmother of grandsons, has to fear for the future of their boys because of people like you who sit here and take uncorroborated testimony, uncorroborated allegations against a decent man and ruin him because it gets you ratings. Enough of that.”

Kirsten Powers spoke for women across the country when she said, after dealing with being constantly interrupted by Caputo, “That’s bonkers. Literally insane.” Jeffrey Toobin weighed in with, “I hope young men who sexually assault young women get their lives ruined. I mean, I’m not worried about that.”

The concerns brought forth by Trump and Caputo show that certain men in the political sphere do not recognize that the current political environment in our country does not protect women. They do not seem to want change as much as point fingers.  

This absence of reason, or perhaps care, was also seen during Kavanaugh’s hearing. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Judge Kavanaugh if he had watched Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony. He said that he had not. With his background as a lawyer, it is unlikely that he would not be fully aware of his opponents case against him. If he had watched the testimony, he is lying under oath, and his credibility is jeopardized. If he did not, he did not give Dr. Ford the simple respect of hearing what she has to say.  

President Trump tweeted, “Judge Kavanagh showed America exactly why I nominated him.” However during the hearing, Kavanagh potentially lied several times under oath.  He claimed he was never blackout drunk, however classmates from Yale say otherwise. His freshman college roommate, James Roche, said, “He was a notably heavy drinker, even by standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk…  I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.” He also insisted, “I have no connections [to Yale]. I got there by busting my tail.” However, his grandfather attended Yale and 25% of Yale students are classifies as legacy. Perhaps the most problematic to the case, he claimed that he did not run in the same social circles as Dr. Ford; however, a calendar entry on July 1, shows Kavanagh drinking with friends, including one of Blasey’s ex-boyfriends, Chris Garrett. Regardless of the truth of the Ford case, there are inconsistencies with Kavanaugh’s stories.

The he-said she-said conflict is heightened by political tensions and differences. During the hearing, the Republicans and Democrats had different strategies for their questioning.  The Republicans, all white-men, deferred their questions to a female prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, and made evocative statements displaying their disgust at this terrible injustice. Senator Lindsey Graham declared, “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020.”  It is not merely about destroying Kavanaugh’s life. It is instead about understanding the morality and actions of a potential Supreme Court Justice. Past potential actions should not be overlooked when appointing someone to make supreme judicial rulings. It is especially concerning for a man accused of sexual misconduct to determine the reproductive rights of women.

Democrats used their time to question the integrity of the Republican investigation and treatment of victims of sexual violence in the United States and Dr. Ford.  Mr. Blumenthal, a Connecticut Senator, said, “If we agree on nothing else today, I hope on a bipartisan basis we can agree on how much courage it has taken for you to come forward.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in her statement at the beginning of the proceedings, said, “We are here for one reason, to determine whether Judge Kavanaugh should be elevated to one of the most powerful positions in our country,” she said. “This is not a trial of Dr. Ford. It’s a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh. Is Brett Kavanaugh who we want on the most prestigious court in our country? Is he the best we can do?” Ms. Feinstein made a point of clearly stating that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was not on trial.

And yet, it seems that women all across America are on trial. Our candor, integrity, motives, and intelligence are being doubted by those who hold legislative power over our lives in this nation. In the United States, one in five women and one in seventy one men will be raped at some point in their lives, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. With such high statistics, it is important that we have a cultural shift to stop this behavior. Young girls are forced to wonder, if something were to happen to me or my friends, what would happen? Who would take us seriously? How we deal with this case will set a precedent for how we deal with sexual misconduct in the future.

Watching Kavanaugh’s hearing was an incredibly emotional experience. It forced some to relive their own negative experiences, and others to acknowledge the sad truth of our society. We finally understand the grave reality of our situation. Only one man out of every ninety nine accused of sexual assault will go to jail, according to the Huffington Post.  Most victims are discredited even though 98% of all sexual assault cases are veritable, according to Stanford University. We watched a composed, eloquent, and brave woman plead her truth, and we watched angry, divisive, and defensive men fight tooth and nail for Kavanaugh to become the next Supreme Court Justice.  At this peak of injustice, Mr. President, Judge Kavanaugh, what are parents supposed to tell their daughters? And do you even care?