Kavanaugh; Our Last Straw
By Anika Buder-Greenwood and Amelia Killackey
Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hung in the balance this week as the FBI investigation continued to look into the sexual assault allegations that came to light during the hearing that took place on September 28. During the hearing, a sense of despondency engulfed the Packer community; many classes halted their lesson plans to view what would become one of the most controversial events of the year, while others, teary-eyed, engaged in reflective conversations concerning what was unfolding on the screen. Some students spent their time in the library, captivated by the live viewing of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing, and many later took social media by storm to share their opinions, many posting slogans such as “I believe her,” or lengthy rants.
After Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retired, President Trump nominated Republican Brett Kavanaugh, a judge for the D.C. Court of Appeals, as his successor. Kavanaugh, 53, is pro-NRA, pro-life, is outwardly skeptical of climate change and believes in broad executive power. Although his views may not align with those of the average Packer student, his politics are not the main topic being discussed; Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by a myriad of women. Before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Judge Kavanaugh of assaulting her in high school, testified at a congressional hearing, and the event was an emotionally taxing one to watch. For many, it begged the question of the morality of electing a man accused of assault to the highest court in the land.
According to the official Supreme Court website, “the Court is the highest tribunal in the Nation for all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or the laws of the United States.” Consequently, it is crucial that those representatives embody not only proper policy, but also upstanding morals. It is not Judge Kavanaugh’s understanding of constitutional law that many are pushing back against, but rather the notion that an accused sexual predator will be serving a life term on a court that is meant to uphold ethics.
Even one of the members of the Conservatives at Packer club believes Kavanaugh should not be representing the American population.
“Good morals can mean different things for different people, but, I think that the biggest morality question is ethics. And politicians should be held to higher standards when it comes to ethics,” said the anonymous student.
After the incidents surrounding sexual assault occurred at Packer last year, this topic is especially sensitive to our community.
“Because of the conversations at Packer surrounding the #MeToo movement and consent, it gave me more context to understand the allegations made against [Kavanaugh] and the seriousness of them,” said Lucy Anderson (‘21). Many of the allegations against him date back to high school, and so these conversations especially resonate with us as teenagers, as it reminds us of the gravity of our actions.
While many believe Kavanaugh is amoral, the argument can be made that since he was never found guilty of the sexual assault crimes that the FBI investigated, he would still make an adequate Supreme Court Justice. Many of those opposing Kavanaugh have responded to such logic by pointing out that the investigation run by the FBI was inadequate; the main witness, Mark Judge, did not even testify. Even if Kavanaugh did not sexually assault these women, he was still overly degrading in his language and his demeanor towards women; during the hearing he did not have the mental capacity to handle himself in front of many people (he was crying, yelling, and mentally unstable), which calls into question his adequacy in maintaining an objective and stable disposition while sitting on the bench.
“[Kavanaugh’s confirmation] reinforce[d] a lot of very negative things, and [sent] a bad message to the young boys and girls of America,” said Henry Houston (‘21). As Henry said, it is indeed disheartening that Kavanaugh is intended to be the epitome of good values and yet he is an alleged sexual predator. It also sends the wrong message to boys and girls that their actions do not have consequences, even if that action is committing sexual assault.
Sam Levine (‘21) agreed, saying: “My initial reaction was, I do not want [Kavanaugh] on the Supreme Court representing me or representing our decisions as a country. However, these allegations furthered my distaste for this man….We should not have sexual predators, in any capacity, on the Supreme Court bench.”
At Packer, we are well versed in the topic of consent; signs line the halls spreading positive messages about the importance of an affirmative yes, it is a part of our health curriculum, and is a popular conversation topic. For students at Packer who believe that Judge Kavanaugh did commit sexual assault and are interested in conversations surrounding consent, it is difficult to fathom how he could be chosen to uphold our values when his very morals are the antithesis of what we are being taught about consent.
Even as high school students, we understand the importance of political role models. We comprehend what is right and wrong in terms of consent, and the fact that Kavanaugh was in high school is no excuse for his actions. This man has a completely broken moral compass; he will serve an entire lifetime on the bench and will affect our access to guns and our access to birth control, among a host of other subjects. The fact that he is confirmed sends the message that sexual predators are excused for their actions, and that victim’s stories are invalid. To young adults, Kavanaugh reinforces the idea that abuse of power (and of women in particular) is acceptable in our society when in reality, that is far from the truth. We already have a misogynistic president who has told America that ethics do not matter, so how many more reinforcements of that message can this country take?