The newest and most controversial justice on the US Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, is facing renewed scrutiny and calls for impeachment from some Democrats today, following a New York Times essay this weekend alleging that he was seen sexually harassing another woman while at Yale University.
Questions into Kavanaugh’s fitness for the office came to the fore during September of last year when Dr Christine Blasey Ford, a professor and research psychologist at Stanford University, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.
There have been two more reliable reports of sexual misbehavior by Kavanaugh since then. Making matters worse, Times reporters investigated former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez’s claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in her freshman year at Yale, where he was also a student, at the time. The Times reported that during Kavanaugh’s confirmation period the FBI declined to interview the list of 25 people Ramirez’s attorneys gave to them to corroborate her story. Whether Trump or other high-ranking Republicans were involved in silencing the investigation remains to be seen.
On Twitter Sunday afternoon, the hashtag #ImpeachKavanaughNow and #KavanaughLied was trending and several of the candidates for the Democratic nomination called for the impeachment of the Supreme Court Justice as well as his ally, the president. Senator Kamala Harris said on Twitter that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate and “was put on the Court through a sham process”. Sen. Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation.
In his habitual, unpresidential way, Donald Trump tried to distract from the substance of the allegations by addressing them as though they are political fodder, which they are not.
That Trump, who bragged about "grabbing women by the pussy", is defending a man accused of sexually assaulting multiple women is not surprising; we all know the president is outrageously unprincipled, even if his daughter Ivanka says she got her “moral compass” from her father. What is remarkably upsetting, however, is that more Republican members of Congress aren’t calling for a proper investigation into the allegations, in spite of the supposed religious and political leanings of the now Supreme Court Justice. And while the president clearly doesn't understand or care about black letter law, a vast majority of members of Congress are attorneys by training and know full well their responsibilities to their constituents and to the nation as federal lawmakers.
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Sexual assault is not, nor can it be, a partisan issue. It can be perpetrated by people of any gender, age, race or sexuality. Sexual assault has no nationality or political affiliation. The last and second president that the House of Representatives ever impeached was a Democrat (Nixon resigned before he could be impeached). Clinton’s sexually inappropriate behavior, and his lying about it under oath, is what lead to his impeachment in December 1998.
The 42nd president of the US wasn’t ultimately convicted by the Senate (the next step in Congress after impeachment) and was able to finish his term in office. In spite of the lack of conviction, however, the lesson was imprinted in the minds of Americans and in history books for generations to come – inappropriate sexual misconduct and lying about it to Congress is an impeachable offense. Period. And setting some Democrats’ calls to impeach Trump aside, Kavanaugh’s alleged conduct is not only morally reprehensible – it’s criminal.
The sheer number of credible attacks against the moral character of Brett Kavanaugh should be disqualifying simply because of the nature of the office he now holds. There are many offices a highly educated and successful attorney with allegedly prurient interests can reach in their career — just not the Supreme Court.
If Justice Kavanaugh were to be impeached by Congress, he would be the second Supreme Court Justice in the history of the country to ever be impeached. The first was Justice Samuel Chase, who was impeached in 1804 by the House of Representatives, but was later acquitted by the Senate in 1805.
Being nominated and confirmed to the highest court in the land is an honor that only 115 men and women have had since the Supreme Court first convened 230 years ago (four women, specifically). To sit on the Supreme Court does not mean that a Justice is infallible – that is a quality that is reserved for a different kingdom. It does mean, however, that a Supreme Court Justice must not be above the law of the land that he or she helps to shape during their lifetime appointment.
With a misogynist in the Oval Office who is determined to have his way, legally or not—and a Republican party of sycophants rallying behind him and a Justice who seems to be willing to do Trump's bidding—it is unlikely that we will see Kavanaugh face any kind of a real investigation during the remainder of this increasingly tragic presidency. The redemption of truth, justice and honor – the badges of any Supreme Court Justice — will, it seems, have to wait.