Why it is not just about Kavanaugh
On Sept. 12, 2018, a single letter shook the entire nation.
Released from California Senator Diane Feinstein’s office, a woman named Dr. Christine Blasey Ford detailed a traumatic evening that culminated in her escape from attempted rape by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
The revelation completely derailed what had, up until that point, appeared to be a secure confirmation process.
Now, the path forward is anything but clear.
On one side is an accomplished woman, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, who is seemingly standing up for the good of the public. Her trauma provides what could be an important insight into the character of a man that we are about to give arguably one of the most powerful positions in the nation.
On the other side is an apparent bewildered man who has already been entrusted with a position on the US Circuit Court for the past 12 years. His competence and qualifications cannot be questioned, but these allegations most certainly call his character into question.
Determining the exact facts of the incident between Ford and Kavanaugh seems to be impossible, as each party can seemingly match the other for new accusations and character witnesses respectively.
We have an important jurisprudence in this nation that one is innocent until proven guilty. We must consider carefully if we are willing to let someone suffer consequences from an allegation against them that has not been proven.
What kind of a precedent would this set for our nation?
Considering that we are contending with one of the highest offices in our nation, arguing that the standards ought to be changed has merit. These debates need to occur, but their outcomes are sadly predictable based off of what party is in control.
Amidst fiery rhetoric from each side, the hearings had become a charade with a simplistic agenda of partisan politics; Republicans and Democrats are expected to have made up their minds and not be concerned with facts.
However, this expectation changed on Friday when republican Senator Jeff Flake made a surprise late call to delay the Senate vote one week to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation.
This change of heart is a symbol of hope in what had until that point been a spectacle of polarization.
Flake’s proposal is especially significant for two main reasons. First, for Republicans, this investigation is not actually necessary thanks to new confirmation rules enacted in 2017 by the Republican majority Senate.
Majority leader Mitch McConnell changed the voting standard from the traditional 60 vote requirement to a simple majority, making the confirmation process possible simply along party lines, no debate required.
But the second reason that Flake’s proposal is notable is that perhaps it will bring cooperation and consideration back into the Senate.
The change to the rules of confirmation shifted the focus away from the integrity of the nominee, and has simultaneously detracted from the integrity of the process itself.
Texan Senator John Cornyn has called the hearings “one of the darkest days for the United States Senate” ever since “the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950’s,” according to NBC News.
However, this move toward cooperation might signal a shift away from the party line.
An FBI investigation will allow for real facts to become the main focus of the debate surrounding Kavanaugh, and move the confirmation process back toward its intended focus.
Hopefully introducing more facts into this case will redirect the Senate and the nation’s attention back to objectivity and the real mission of finding out who Kavanaugh really is.
Sexual assault allegations ought to be considered grave concerns when assessing a person’s character, especially in the context of a nominee for the highest Court of our nation.
However, that is only part of what is on trial in these confirmation hearings. The next steps in this confirmation process will reveal just as much about the United States Senate as it will Kavanaugh.
Promoting the investigation is an encouraging step away from blind partisanship. It remains to be seen if the Senate is truly committed to finding facts, or if they are only concerned with finding themselves in the right.