With votes tallied and protestors enraged, the U.S. Senate approved Brett Kavanaugh as the 114th Supreme Court Justice. The hearing, nomination and confirmation stirred controversy nationwide as citizens debated Kavanaugh qualification for the job as a Justice of the Supreme Court.
On July 9, President Trump announced that Kavanaugh would succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Months later, when Kavanaugh attended his confirmation hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, accusations from more than 30 years ago caused people to question Kavanaugh’s nomination. On Sept. 16, The Washington Post published a story regarding a woman named Christine Blasey Ford who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school.
Ford and Kavanaugh testified in front of the committee on Sept. 27, followed by an FBI investigation the next week. Based on the testimony and the FBI report, senators determined whether to vote for or against Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court Justice. It was a 50-48 vote, and they confirmed Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court. However, controversy stirred between U.S. citizens as they debated the validity of the accusations.
Lauren Marsh, a senior political science and psychology major, said that this has been a frustrating process to her because it sets a bad example for people who do wrong, but escape conviction. She said that this outcome sets a precedent that people can deny something for thirty years and then not face any consequences. Although she cannot be certain these allegations are true, she said she usually believes the victims.
“I understand that people can change, but there’s also expected consequences for actions,” she said.
Although it was not a criminal trial, the hearing before the Judiciary Committee gave insight to both perspectives. Marsh said that the process the committee conducted was beneficial because U.S. citizens should have as much information as possible about who is going to be their next Justice.
Since Ford’s alleged assault–which went unreported at the time–occurred in the 1980s, there is no evidence to determine if the accusations are true or not. This also means that the statute of limitations has expired. With just the testimonies, Senators and U.S. citizens developed their opinions on what they heard at the hearings.
“I believe that people should be innocent until proven guilty, but I believe in extremely thorough, in-depth response to any accusation,” Seth Hastings, a junior engineering major, said. “I don’t want to live in a country where people aren’t afforded due process, regardless how I feel about that person, they deserve the right to a fair hearing and a fair trial.”
Jake Bushlack, senior engineering major, said that Kavanaugh did what he needed to do by submitting to the Justice System and testifying, but there was not enough evidence to find Kavanaugh guilty of the crime.
“If there was more evidence that was brought against him, I would not have been for him being nominated,” Bushlack said.
Additionally, President Trump said that it is not just Kavanaugh who the accusations affected. Trump said he felt terrible for Kavanaugh, his wife and his daughters.
Bushlack said, “In the public’s eye that person is marred and their whole career is torn down, I think that is too much power on an accuser without holding the accuser accountable for anything. If my dad was known throughout the nation as a rapist, if there was no proof that he was one, then I would be pretty unhappy and probably ashamed, myself.”
The testimonies Ford and Kavanaugh gave were not for a criminal trial, but a chance for the committee members to listen to both sides of the stories. Ford and Kavanaugh were the only witnesses to testify in front of the committee and both had evidence to present to the committee.
Kavanaugh’s calendars from his high school years, which had events and scheduled plans, did not have a party recorded like one Ford referenced. During Kavanaugh’s testimony, he also said he never woke up in a different location than he remembered or blacked out from having too much alcohol. On the other side, Ford testified that she was 100 percent sure Kavanaugh assaulted her during high school. Before her testimony, she also took a polygraph test and the results concluded Ford was truthful when summarizing the allegations, according to CNN. Even with the evidence provided, arguments over the allegations’ truth ensued. In the end, it came down to four crucial swing votes that determined Kavanaugh’s confirmation: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake and Joe Manchin — three Republicans and a Democrat respectively. Sens. Collins, Flake and Manchin voted in favor of Kavanaugh, securing his confirmation.
“I think that everyone agrees that he has a pretty solid judicial history, regardless of where people stood on his accusations they agreed that his judicial history were really good,” Hastings said.
In the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee press release, Bob Goodlatte said, “Judge Brett Kavanaugh has proven himself to be one of the most qualified jurists to be nominated to the Supreme Court. He has demonstrated his commitment to interpret the Constitution the way it was written, as well as his faithfulness to the rule of law throughout this long and daunting confirmation process.”
Kavanaugh will start hearing cases this week on immigration, product liability and the Armed Career Criminal Act, according to USA Today.