Well folks, it happened. Brett Kavanaugh just landed a lifetime appointment as a justice on the Supreme Court. Some are crying tears of joy, and some are just crying. This whole situation, and current political season, has been emotionally draining. Politics are even showing up in my counseling sessions with adolescents and young adults. And while some folks have mixed emotions on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and the whole process surrounding it, there are some larger implications here worthy of some venting.
A few days ago, I read this article from the NY Times, which stated:
The American Bar Association called Thursday evening for postponing a vote on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until sexual assault and misconduct allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and others are investigated by the F.B.I.
Separately, the magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States, America, withdrew its endorsement of Judge Kavanaugh, who was educated by Jesuits at Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland. In a statement on Thursday, the editors said the nomination was “no longer in the best interests of the country.”
Then, late Thursday night, I came across this article from the Washington Post citing a recent a public opinion by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. In the article, Justice Stevens stated:
I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability. . . . I feel [Kavanaugh’s] performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.
If that wasn’t enough, Dr. Chad Ludington, a current professor at NC State University and former classmate of Kavanaugh’s from Yale, said that Kavanaugh lied about the extent of his drinking during the hearing. Ludington said he couldn’t sleep after hearing Kavanaugh minimize his behavior in undergrad, and that:
When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by diffusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.
If you are up for one of the most powerful jobs in the world, which also happens to be a lifetime appointment, the process to confirm your seat should be extensive and non-partisan. If (1) the consortium of professionals serving as the accrediting body of your profession are shaky on you at best; (2) the official organized head of the religious institution that educated you has taken the time to publicly not endorse you; (3) a former Justice of the Supreme Court decided to retract his support for you due to your poor temperament; and, (4) a former classmate felt so obligated to speak about your excessive belligerence in college that he couldn’t sleep at night, then it’s time to re-evaluate whether or not you are the most qualified person for the job.
Kavanaugh has had a reputable career whether we agree with his politics or not. When looking at his career on paper, a rational argument can be made for him being on the Supreme Court. But, this is a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful seats in the world. We need to consider the full context of the candidate and not just their professional career and how much volunteer work they have done. We need to do more than just a quick critique of his resume.
And while I agree with the Democrats’ position of voting “No” on Kavanaugh, their party did not handle the confirmation process in the best manner. All I can think about is when Michelle Obama encouraged the American public to go high when others go low, and how far we are from that moment. But, in all fairness, we have a president that would seemingly be a dictator if not for a few people desperately trying to keep him in check. So, how do you conduct “business as usual” when there ain’t nothin’ usual about the business? How do you go high when no one seems to care how low our Commander in Chief is willing to repeatedly go?
When I approach the weight of Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation using my counselor lens, it’s not a general “Why?” that comes to mind, it’s a “Why him?” Are there no other qualified people who could fill this role? Why this man? What is so special about Brett Kavanaugh?
During the hearing on September 27th, Kavanaugh was clearly angry, upset, and frustrated. Part of that frustration seemed to be focused on the fact that this is his seat and that he deserves that seat. Lindsey Graham, and Kavanaugh himself, made that pretty clear despite never using those exact words. Their ferocity and tone of righteous indignation said it all. It felt as though they were fighting more for Kavanaugh’s “right” to be on the Supreme Court versus the honor and respect of his name and family.
It’s a privilege to even be considered for the Supreme Court—it is not the right of any individual. Sure, Kavanaugh is intelligent, has federal judicial experience, and has a long-spanning career in the upper echelons of law. But that does not mean this is his seat. This isn’t The Matrix and he isn’t “the one.”
Let me be clear, I am a therapist and a person of Christian faith. I believe in second chances, grace, and that people can truly change. What I do not believe in is us lowering our standards for such a prestigious and powerful role just because we elected a president who speaks and acts deplorably to multitudes of people time and time again. I understand that there is political timing at play here, and the GOP did not want this confirmation process to be put on hold with the mid-term elections looming (which is what they did with the Gorsuch nomination). But, the Supreme Court is not supposed to be political. Our democracy, and the evolution of our culture, depends on the court being non-partisan.
Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement has demonstrated widespread abuse toward women within societies around the globe, including the U.S. This level of privilege and power that men hold in our society has been wielded over women for far too long, and if we are not going to hold our political leaders to a higher level of accountability, then what message are we sending with this confirmation?
Personally, I believe the evidence I have seen and heard against Justice Kavanaugh’s character aligns with the allegations from Dr. Ford. And while I do not know with one-hundred percent certainty what happened, there is more than enough evidence against Kavanaugh’s character to cast a notable volume of doubt. After all of the grandstanding by the Senate on Friday, what was so hard or illogical about saying, “I am not certain about this nominee, who else do you have that is qualified?”
We do not need any more Brock Turner’s, Bill Cosby’s, or Donald Trump’s. We do not need more political leaders who brag about grabbing pussies and forcing their way into leadership by extrapolating the very worst elements of human nature. And we damn sure do not need anyone in leadership unwilling to stand defiantly against these behaviors. In the words of Big Daddy Kane, “ain’t no half steppin’.”
We need leaders, right, left, and other, who are of high moral and ethical character. Leaders who are willing to demonstrate their empathy through their words and their actions.
We need to remember that November is coming.