Should circuit court judge Brett Kavanaugh be appointed to the Supreme Court, the lives of women throughout the U.S. will change, starting with the court being overshadowed by a man who clearly has a proclivity for lying about sexual assault, straight through to the great Republican fantasy of repealing Roe v Wade. And at the center of this whole situation, there is twisted kernel of truth, which is now apparent: Republicans don’t care about people, they only care about keeping and maintaining power.
Kavanaugh, who is at the center this ongoing political opera, is a man whose moral compass is supposed to govern the supreme law of this country. However, what is now at stake is whether in 2018 – in the era of “me too” – a man’s personal reputation or the need for political expediency is worth more than a woman’s life, liberty, or right to safety. Kavanaugh’s hearings have become a litmus test of where we now stand as a country – morally, ethically, politically.
Regardless of what Republicans, conservative punditry or even the White House has said, Kavanaugh has been accused of more than just horseplay. He has been accused of sexually assaulting four women. “But boys will be boys,” as some have been saying. “It was so long ago,” others have said. Yet as men, it is important for us to acknowledge that “boys being boys” does not include drunkenly trying to hold down a woman and covering her mouth so she does not scream.
One potential concern, which has been raised in defense of Kavanaugh, is that any woman with a score to settle will be able to claim sexual assault without the burden of proof, and that Kavanaugh should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In trying to secure his nomination as quickly as possible, though, he has shown his preference for power and prestige over justice. This is the elitist culture of toxic masculinity at its intersection with things like extreme privilege and class.
As a guardian and symbol of justice, he should care that these accusations are taken seriously, and considered with the full rigor and power of our justice system. His ambitions to the Supreme Court should be subordinate to this concern. Nonetheless, the president, who has also been accused of sexual assault, unsurprisingly said that the women accusing Kavanaugh are “all false to me,” using his own accusations as a way to defend the embattled judge.
The president’s comments pose another question: Is sexual assault not sexual assault unless it is reported within 24 hours of the incident occurring? We know the short answer to this is no. But this is one of the broad questions we should expect our elected leaders to take seriously now that these accusations are part of the nomination process.
Kavanaugh’s defense relies solely on his character as a “family man,” though the more accusations that are leveled, the more reasons we have to distrust and question his character. His defense, using his status as a virgin throughout high school and for many years after, is just one example. Beyond this being an obvious play to the Republican’s Christian base, are virgins suddenly incapable of sexual assault? If the allegations are true then it’s obvious that young Kavanaugh’s virginity didn’t come from a place of Christian virtue.
This also exposes the Republican Party’s precarious position; having to defend a lecherous president and Supreme Court nominee while simultaneously extolling the virtues of chastity and virginity. While always positioning themselves as the party of values, what has become obvious is that the GOP only has values when it’s convenient to do so. And at this stage, their main value is political power at all cost. We should all take umbrage at the notion that the hunt for truth in sexual assault allegations must be quick; a lifetime appointment to the highest court of law should not be done in haste.
People in this country deserve better.
Even if Kavanaugh did what these women allege, I’ve heard people ask if there is no room for redemption and forgiveness. If there is room, then he still must take responsibility for his actions before forgiveness is considered – something he has consistently failed to do. By lying, he has shown that he is willing to make a mockery of the high court he wants to represent. Forgiveness is only possible if you own up to what you did, including assaulting women during “horseplay” in the 1980s. Having a wife and two daughters does not change this.
The battle over the Kavanaugh nomination transcends party lines. It is about not only the way women are treated, but the kind of story we, as a country, are willing to tell to one another. Values, morals, and ethics are critical, and the Republican Party continues to lose credibility by being unwilling to back up their own moral claims with concrete action. Attempting to force through the Kavanaugh nomination instead of investigating multiple allegations proves that their goal is not truth, but promoting their agenda at all costs.