Kavanaugh’s confirmation shows the process is flawed

October 16, 2018 — by David Koh and Jeffrey Ma

Donald Trump’s presidency has been riddled with controversy and polarization along partisan lines. Most recently, his nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, was confirmed on Oct. 6 despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations. With a vote of 50-48 in his favor, Kavanaugh is the most divisive justice to date.

Besides raising questions about rape culture and sparking social unrest, the hearing exposed deeply rooted issues with how the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominees — the process fails to objectively evaluate candidate fitness for the nation’s highest court.

While testifying under oath, Kavanaugh made statements that were seen as vague or as stretching evidence — or in some cases, as flat-out falsehoods. Furthermore, he refused to cooperate with an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations and responded to Sen. Amy Klobuchar's questions of whether he blacked out from alcohol consumption with an angry question of his own: “I don’t know, have you?”

These instances reveal him to lack the temperament necessary for the Supreme Court, yet the focus seemed to remain on Ford’s allegations alone.

While some senators tried to return the hearing from drinking and assault to Kavanaugh’s character and honesty, most media attention remained fixated on Ford’s allegations.

The spotlight placed on an essentially “he said, she said” scandal demonstrates the flawed way we are evaluating potential justices. Although allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously, more focus should have been drawn to Kavanaugh’s glaring partisanship and belligerence in a high-profile setting. Instead, the focus was merely on whether Kavanaugh was guilty of sexual assault.

With only nine justices on the Supreme court, enormous power is invested in each seat. Whenever a seat is up for grabs these days, a partisan fight is sure to ensue

Kavanaugh’s confirmation is reminiscent of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the court during the last year of former-President Obama’s tenure; holding a majority of the Senate, the Republicans refused to even hold hearings on Garland as a candidate solely because he was nominated by a Democratic president.

Just as party membership became the standard for evaluating Garland, voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation ended almost entirely along party lines, with just two Republican senators abstaining and one Democratic senator crossing over and voting yes on his nomination.

With 29 blue seats and nine red seats in the Senate up for election during the midterm, many outsiders perceive the strict party lines as a reflection of party politics. For most senators seeking re-election,  voting across the aisle is be equivalent damning themselves, alienating their voter bases and breaking from party doctrine,

As Kavanaugh is sworn in a Supreme Court Justice, his character, temperament and readiness all remain unexamined. The only attribute of Kavanaugh that Americans can have faith in is his membership in the Republican party.