Why You Should Be Cautious About Kavanaugh

By Jack O’Dwyer

  Image:   Women gather outside the capitol building in Washington D.C. to protest the confirmation of SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Image: Women gather outside the capitol building in Washington D.C. to protest the confirmation of SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

CW: Sexual Assault/Sexual Violence


US Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh can now add “alleged rapist” to the lengthy list of reasons why women should be protesting every word he says.

Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault against Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward to tell her story late last week. She described an incident during a high school gathering in the 1980’s where she was pinned down and groped by the then 17-year-old while his friend stood and watched. She was only able to escape after the friend jumped on both of them, knocking them to the floor. When she attempted to call for help, Kavanaugh allegedly placed a hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she said, no doubt echoing what countless women in her position have felt before.

Ford explained that she had only spoke about this incident during counseling with her husband in 2012. Notes acquired from the therapist and reviewed by The Washington Post seem to corroborate her story.

She chose to contact the Post via tipline in July, but did not decide to come forward until now due to anxiety over the stigma most rape victims face for nearly the rest of their lives. In late August she had nearly decided to drop the whole thing, calling what would inevitably follow an “annihilation” for her. Ford is an acclaimed professor at Palo Alto University teaching clinical psychology and has been published in numerous academic journals. It goes without saying that her courage to lay herself — and her work — bare like this is is beyond admirable.

Unsurprisingly, Kavanaugh denied the accusation. One of his colleagues even went as far as to present a list of 65 women he didn’t sexually assault as a teenager. Who knew?

Both are expected to stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. The hearing promises to be a powerful echo of another similar case from 1991, now with the #MeToo movement marching on in the background.

Kavanaugh has been heralded as the socially conservative justice the Republican party so desperately dreamt of. They believe he may be the key to overturning Roe v. Wade — a notion he doesn’t seem eager to dispel. He has referred to the case as a “precedent” that has been reaffirmed many times. According to him, it’s a “settled law”.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not seem convinced of his nonchalant acceptance of Roe.

“Everything the Supreme Court decides is settled law until a majority of the Supreme Court decides to unsettle it,” he said, “I asked him if he agreed that Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood were correctly decided. He would not say yes. That should send shivers down the spine of any American who believes in reproductive freedom for women.”

In a 2003 memo released earlier this September, Kavanaugh wrote the Supreme Court can always overrule Roe. and that many justices would do so.

President Trump’s own bombastic words served to affirm this sentiment as he was often quoted saying he would only appoint justices who would “automatically” overturn the 1973 milestone ruling.

Last fall, Kavanaugh was a part of an abortion case in which dealt with a 17-year-old girl who opted to undergo the procedure when she was discovered to be 8 weeks pregnant at the border. The Trump administration became the last wall, as it were, keeping her from terminating her pregnancy. She was already deemed “mature and sufficiently well informed to make the decision to have an abortion” by a Texas judge, meaning she was already given the go-ahead. Eventually, with help from ACLU lawyers, the case ended up in the laps of Kavanaugh and two other judges. Kavanaugh allegedly attempted to “run out the clock” on the girl’s pregnancy so it would reach Texas’ 20-week maximum for legal abortions. She got hers at just over 15 weeks.

“The majority’s decision represents a radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence,” he said, referring to the attempt by the ACLU to allow her to get an abortion without an “adult sponsor” — despite the fact she was cleared through all normal criteria.

If overturned, abortion rights would have to be reviewed and set on a state by state basis.

Kavanaugh is also the kind of guy who doesn’t think it should be mandatory that insurance providers pay for contraception on the basis of religious freedom.

He opposed a ban on semiautomatic weapons stating that they are, “in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting and other lawful uses.” Gun registration is also on the list of things he doesn’t agree with.

So far, he doesn’t have any leading precedents on same-sex issues. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from being overly wary at the “socially conservative” title, however.

Uprooting the confirmation is a long shot, but with a sexual assault allegation hanging over his head, Republicans might just shy away from supporting Kavanaugh as vigorously as they have been. No woman wants to go through a court case detailing her assault to be scrutinized by almost every citizen in the nation. With the current circumstances being as eerie as they are, it’s possible that this is the life-saving follow up to Anita Hill we have all been waiting for.


CITATIONS

“Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas: The Backstory.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 20 Oct. 2010, www.cbsnews.com/news/anita-hill-vs-clarence-thomas-the-backstory/.

Biskupic, Joan. “Roe v Wade Is 'Precedent,' Kavanaugh Says, but There's More to the Future of Abortion.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Sept. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/09/05/politics/kavanaugh-roe-v-wade-planned-parenthood-casey/index.html.

Brown, Emma. “California Professor, Writer of Confidential Brett Kavanaugh Letter, Speaks out about Her Allegation of Sexual Assault.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 16 Sept. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/california-professor-writer-of-confidential-brett-kavanaugh-letter-speaks-out-about-her-allegation-of-sexual-assault/2018/09/16/46982194-b846-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b42bb2c75749.

Golshan, Tara. “65 Women Who Knew Brett Kavanaugh in High School Defend His Character.” Vox, Vox, 14 Sept. 2018, www.vox.com/2018/9/14/17860488/brett-kavanaugh-sexual-assault-georgetown-prep-defense.

McCaskill, Nolan D. “Schumer after Meeting with Kavanaugh: Roe v. Wade Is in Jeopardy.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 21 Aug. 2018, www.politico.com/story/2018/08/21/schumer-kavanaugh-abortion-roe-wade-790871.

Savage, Charlie. “Brett Kavanaugh on the Issues: Abortion, Guns, Climate and More.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 July 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-abortion-guns-environment.html.

Stuart, Tessa. “Here's What Brett Kavanaugh Has Said About Roe v. Wade.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 12 July 2018, www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/brett-kavanaugh-roe-v-wade-697634/.