Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court this Saturday. After weeks of contentious hearings and a barrage of sexual assault allegations, Kavanaugh was confirmed with the tightest margin of any Supreme Court nominee in modern times — 50 to 48.
This confirmation cost the U.S. too many and too great sacrifices. Political violence and harassment touched all parties involved. The presumption of innocence was destroyed. The Supreme Court lost its reputation of independence from politics and the process cut the country to its core. Kavanaugh’s confirmation left half of the country convinced that the system was completely broken.
There were no winners in this process.
The U.S. has reached a new low.
Political violence has become pervasive. We’ve moved beyond peaceful protests and into activist warfare. Last week a Maryland congressman had his wrist bruised by protestors who broke into his office. Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, cited harassment so intense she was forced to get a personal security detail as part of her decision to vote yes on Kavanaugh. At least three Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee had their personal home addresses and private phone numbers published during Kavanaugh’s hearing.
Possible judicial outcomes and political differences have become a justification to persecute and harm people, even in their most private places.
The Court is no longer thought of as impartial or free from political influence. Trump choosing another nominee, and Kavanaugh’s nomination specifically, sparked fears that Roe v. Wade would be overturned and that gay and immigrant rights would be slaughtered upon his arrival.
While these discussions were happening, in the Senate and across the nation, people forgot to discuss Kavanaugh’s actual judicial philosophy including his feelings on the Fourth amendment or his views on upholding the Constitution.
A judicial nomination shouldn’t be about the policies that will be written from the bench because courts aren’t supposed to write policy in the first place.
Finally, this confirmation process has left the country more horribly divided than before. Sexual assault has become a party-line weapon. The presumption of innocence has been destroyed on the national stage. Half of the country believes that rapists can rise to lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court and the other half believes that they’re one false accusation away from having their reputations and livelihoods destroyed.
It’s hard to know if the U.S. has hit rock bottom — the midterms are one month away, President Donald Trump has at least two more years in office and the push to harass public officials has only hardened. The fight for Congress in 2018 will find new energy, with a 5-4 conservative majority sitting on the Supreme Court.
As Americans, we need to be doing some soul-searching.
We can’t let violence and division destroy honesty and dialogue. We can’t let politics become our determinant of human goodness or worth.
Disagreements don’t give grounds for the assaults, both verbal and physical, that have become commonplace in politics.
We need to consider the future of our government. When the most impartial institution in our nation becomes a partisan battleground like any law or policy in front of congress, we have failed. We lose perhaps the most important check on an ever-growing bureaucratic state and find ourselves fighting for control of yet another political tool.