Why Brett Kavanaugh got appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Explaining the system that empowered him and what it means for campuses

Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the U.S. Senate about her assaulter.
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This article discusses sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers. The Journal uses “survivor” to refer to those who have experienced sexual assault. We acknowledge this term is not universal.

Brett Kavanaugh, a man accused of multiple counts of sexual assault, has been appointed to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. 

This is reality, and it isn’t something that can be undone. 

Instead of wallowing over the appointment or debating the nature of the Christine Blasey Ford hearing, we need to understand why Kavanaugh’s appointment is important, how the Republican Party attempted to clear his name, and what this decision means for the culture of Canadian university campuses.

Over the last few decades, the Republican Party has strategically targeted the Supreme Court in an effort to regain a conservative majority. Any Republican judicial nominee would’ve created the five conservative to four liberal judges majority—so why were Republican senators so insistent on supporting Kavanaugh? 

One reason could be Kavanaugh’s unique view that a sitting President shouldn’t be bothered with criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office.

“In particular, Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation,” Kavanaugh wrote in the Minnesota Law Review in 2009

“Criminal investigations targeted at or revolving around a President are inevitably politicized by both their supporters and critics.”

Considering special counsel Robert Muller’s investigation on Russian collusion and obstruction of justice in the 2016 Presidential Election, Kavanaugh’s opinion could be critical for the Trump administration.

Republican Senators may have also pushed for Kavanaugh’s appointment because they didn’t want to risk restarting the long process of vetting a new judicial nominee. Kavanaugh’s nomination occurred in late July and it took months to get him appointed. 

With the upcoming midterm elections around the corner and Democrats making gains in recent polls, it'd be a race against time to find a new Republican Supreme Court candidate. 

If Democratic senators flip enough seats in the coming election, the Republican Party’s majority in the House of Representatives would be lost—as would their hope of approving their preferred candidate for Supreme Court judge. 

Lastly, if senators were to show they accept sexual assault allegations as reason to disqualify an experienced judge, it carries implications about the sitting president who accumulated over 22 allegations of sexual misconduct between 1975 and 2015.

If Republican senators hold one man to the very low standard of not sexually assaulting women, protestors would scream hypocrisy for the Party backing someone who brags about grabbing women “by the p—y.” 

None of these reasons make Kavanaugh’s confirmation less unsettling—but they do provide insight.  

If men and women in the US' highest offices can overlook the testimony of a survivor, it doesn't bode well for cases of sexual assault out of the national spotlight.

These aforementioned reasons for why Republican senators confirmed Kavanaugh’s appointment aren’t confirmed. However, the ways politicians justified their vote to the public seem less plausible than they’d like us to think.  

Many Republicans said Dr. Ford’s allegations would ruin Kavanaugh’s career, even though he’d remain eligible to be a judge on a lower court if his nomination wasn't confirmed. 

Others suggest Dr. Ford was sexually assaulted, but mistook the identity of her assailant. They believed survivors but only in the event of keeping Kavanaugh’s name clean. 

These baseless defences perpetuate rape culture and marginalize experiences of sexual assault by placing Kavanaugh’s reputation and credibility above the woman who says he sexually assaulted her.

At Queen’s, we’re not under Kavanaugh’s rule—the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t directly affect our everyday life. 

But this judicial confirmation has likely emotionally affected someone you know, because it communicates to survivors of sexual assault that their experiences and pain don’t matter. 

Two of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh occurred during his time as a student at Yale. His actions as a university student represent the privileged culture on university campuses today: young, privileged white men often think they have an inherent right to touch a woman’s body—even if they do so jokingly or flirtatiously. 

After being on Queen’s campus for three years, I can assure you there’s no shortage of these type of students here.

Two weeks ago, a young man stuck his hands under my friend’s jeans to grab her vagina at a club. This man was a stranger. His defense for his actions was that he wanted to have fun and it was his friend’s birthday. 

If this doesn’t remind you of President Trump’s infamous “grab her by the p—y” remark, and reasons for justifying sexual assaults allegations like Kavanaugh’s, you’re not paying attention.

One can blame sexual harassment at universities on the booze or the clothing women choose to wear, but sexual assault doesn’t happen without someone believing they have a right to another person’s body.

One can blame sexual harassment at universities on the booze or the clothing women choose to wear, but sexual assault doesn’t happen without someone believing they have a right to another person’s body.

Survivors have horrible memories of their assault engrained for life. As Dr. Ford eloquently recalled in her testimony, she will forever be stuck mentally replaying “the uproarious laughter between [Kavanaugh and Mark Judge], and their having fun at my expense.” This pain is shown to mean nothing if the experiences of survivors have the possibility of ruining a young man’s potential. 

Appointing Kavanaugh despite the sexual assault allegations levied against him feeds to the idea of entitlement without lasting consequences.

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