Supreme Court Controversy

By Daniel Flores ‘19

On October 6, 2018, the United States made history: Brett M. Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th Justice for the Supreme Court of the United States amidst substantial controversy. But many people often do not fully understand the complexity of how the debacle unfolded. On both side there was much infighting: democrats wanted to block the nomination; Republicans didn’t.

With the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court came massive uproar from the Left as President Trump was given the opportunity to appoint a second Supreme Court Justice during his first term, decisions that will shape the United States for decades. Seen as a key swing vote, Justice Kennedy was what made the Supreme Court have a split balance. Across the Left, many were very fearful that President Trump would appoint a conservative to take over his seat. Their fears were met when President Trump appointed Judge Kavanaugh from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.

Once his nomination was set, it was up to the Senate to decide whether or not to confirm him or not. While data was being collected on his background, a university professor by the name of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford approached Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) with claims about sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. Sen Feinstein waited several months before coming along with the allegations.

After this debacle, the most controversial part came about: the testimony. Sen. Feinstein went about a month knowing about the allegations before coming forward with them. Dr. Ford requested to testify, and has made various requests for accommodation for her testimony. The Republicans allowed her to testify, and she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018 . It should be noted when she testified, the Republican senators did not directly ask her questions, but they hired a special female counsel to do so.

She based her accusation that Kavanaugh directly sexually assaulted her at a party when they were in high school – a little over some 20 years ago. Many people argue that there were various issues regarding validity because of how long ago this supposedly happened. Others argued that the claims must be taken seriously due to the severity of the accusations. People also raised issues about the Judge’s temperament and a prior history with alcohol. When it came to these issues, people usually responded along the lines of “If this happened to you, then undoubtedly you will be mad” and “You shouldn’t judge a person by what they did in the past.” Finally, a point many people use to support the Justice is that he underwent so many investigations to become a Judge, so naturally he is should already be cleared to become a SCOTUS Justice.

After testimony came about, many people thought this process will continue to be stalled. Sen Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) said that he would be willing to vote for Kavanaugh if he was cleared through a seperate FBI investigation. This led to another limited FBI investigation clearing the Judge of all charges. He was subsequently voted in.

During the voting process there were 2 big surprises: the first that Sen Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that she would not support the judge; the second that Sen Manchin (D-West Virginia) said he would. This is mostly due to the fact that many voted against party lines and went with what they say they believe is right. Kavanaugh ended up passing with a 50-48 vote, the tightest ever in Supreme Court History.