The Speaker
Friday, 12 April 2024 – 15:12

‘Women and their experiences do not matter’ – Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the US Supreme Court

Brett Kavanaugh has become the newest member of the United States Supreme Court after the Senate voted to confirm the nominee 50-48.

This comes after weeks of turmoil within the United States following allegations that Kavanaugh attempted to rape Dr Christine Blasey Ford at a party when they were both in high school.

During the confirmation proceedings, allegations made by Blasey Ford – now a psychology professor – came to light.

Dr Ford had alleged that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was just 15 years old, and the nominee was 17.

The allegations led to both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testifying before the senate judiciary committee about the events, with Kavanaugh giving an emotional and erratic rebuttal to allegations that President Donald Trump had described as ‘credible’.

Much of the discourse following Dr Ford’s testimony fixated on Kavanaugh’s excessive drinking whilst a student, aiming to decipher whether this allegation would fit into a larger pattern of behaviour on the nominee’s part.

Kavanaugh repeatedly downplayed his drinking, however, former classmates offered a different opinion; three former drinking buddies stated that he would often drink to the point ‘that it would be impossible for him to state with any degree of certainty that he remembered everything that he did when drunk’.

He also stated that he never blacked out whilst drunk, something former classmates again claimed to be false, showing that Kavanaugh had repeatedly lied under oath and thus perjured himself; making himself unsuitable for the court under many people’s standards.

Former Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stephens, stated that this lying during the hearing makes him unsuitable for the highest tier of America’s justice system

Following the testimonies, an FBI report was commissioned to discover whether the allegations were truthful, however, the investigation was only allotted a few days and reports suggest that only four witnesses were initially interviewed, neither of which were Kavanaugh or Ford.

Although expanded in scope later – due to public backlash – the investigation is still reported to have been extremely limited in discovering whether or not the allegations were true.

This report was subsequently withheld from the public, with Democrats criticising the limited scope for making it almost impossible for the FBI to uncover whether the allegations were truthful.

Meanwhile, Republican senators – some of the only people allowed to review the report – stated that the document covered nothing we didn’t already know.

Although information about the investigation is limited, as it was never for public consumption, it failed to get to the bottom of whether Kavanaugh had or had not committed attempted rape; with his subsequent confirmation suggesting that the GOP did not care whether the allegations were true or not.

Although it is still unknown, with absolute certainty, if Kavanaugh did attempt to rape Dr Blasey Ford, the unwillingness to carry out a thorough investigation sends a disgusting message to American women – specifically women who have been subjected to sexual assault – that their experience doesn’t matter, as these powerful men and their career ambition matters more.

This is a point that Donald Trump made clear during a recent rally in Mississippi; falsely representing Ford’s claims before stating ‘what he’s going through, thirty-six years ago this happened’, clearly insinuating that even if it did happen, it should have no bearing on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that many GOP senators acknowledged that the allegations made by Ford were credible, and that she most likely was subjected to an attempted rape back in high school, but that she was simply mistaken in who carried out the assault.

Given Blasey Ford’s vivid memory of the event and corroborating evidence – naming partygoers whom she would only have known if present at the party where the incident allegedly took place – it is worrying that the GOP were so willing to dismiss her claims and confirm Kavanaugh regardless, especially without a thorough investigation.

Warwick student and feminist campaigner Abha Calindi stated that ‘the basic message is that the most important court in the USA literally does not care about the sexual assault of women at all’.

‘Less than 2% of reported assaults are false… she was forced to relive a horrible traumatic night and be questioned about it if she was a criminal herself’.

When speaking about whether the FBI investigation was sufficient to exonerate the allegations, Miss Calindi stated, ‘the investigation was not thorough, it is literally as if they absolutely did not care’.

Although it cannot be known for certain whether Kavanaugh was guilty of the alleged assault, the lack of willingness to thoroughly investigate the matter suggests that the GOP wished to rush the nomination and did not care about whether he was or was not guilty; sending a terrible message to women that their voice does not matter in the highest level of US politics.

With the #MeToo movement bringing down many celebrities who had carried out sexual assault, it appeared that we had reached an epoch-making moment in 2018, with women’s experiences finally being taken seriously, but the confirmation of Kavanaugh shows how limited the change in attitude really is.

Brett Kavanaugh will now serve on the Supreme Court for life, making decisions that will impact many generations of Americans; likely including significant rulings about women’s reproductive rights.

One of the main objections to Kavanaugh before his nomination was his willingness to overturn Roe vs Wade, a ruling that guaranteed women’s access to abortion.

His nomination has potentially thrown this in jeopardy, with the host of The Young Turks, Cenk Uyger highlighting Kavanaugh’s willingness to overturn precedent in favour of siding with his conservative views.

Uyger stated that Kavanaugh is simply a conservative ‘apparatchik’, who is willing to overturn precedent in favour of conservative rulings, which potentially threatens Roe vs Wade should such a case come before the Supreme Court.

Regardless of whether Kavanaugh was guilty or innocent, the US Senate has sent a clear message; we do not care about women’s experiences and we are willing to overlook sexual assault allegations in favour of our partisanship.

It is now less than a month until Americans are set to go to the polls for the mid-term elections. It remains to be seen whether this latest slap in the face for American women will have any long-term bearing on US electoral politics, but what is clear from the farce of Kavanagh’s nomination is that society still has a long way to go in seeing women as equal to powerful men.


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