On October 6th, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a judge on the Supreme Court.
Controversy swirled around every step of his nomination: sexual assault allegations, messy Senate hearings, and anti-Kavanaugh protests. For several weeks, both Republicans and Democrats fought fiercely in the Senate to gain the upper hand in the Supreme Court. However, what is crucial to this issue is not political parties or federal power — it’s the scenario itself.
Democrat or Republican, male or female: everyone universally agrees that sexual assault is never acceptable. True, not all sexual assault allegations are 100% true, and not all that are committed are reported. But what we know with absolute certainty is that each report deserves a chance to be heard, which is why Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony holds so much weight both legally and symbolically.
A sexual assault allegation is not something to be taken lightly, and our justice system reflects that belief accordingly. Criminal repercussions, lengthy trial processes, resurfaced traumas — the legal circumstances of sexual assault are convoluted and harsh, and they often punish both the accused and the accuser. However, Kavanaugh’s case holds another layer of meaning. When Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault, not only did his legal proceedings go under international scrutiny; they also raised a thought-provoking question for every American: what does it mean for American values when a Supreme Court nominee — a candidate for the highest court in the land — is accused of such a heinous crime?
The answer to that question varies from person to person. However, I believe it means two things.
First, the allegation itself is a harsh reminder of our need to better address sexual assault. A social media hashtag — though it may raise awareness — is not enough. We need to take concrete steps to prevent future assaults, whether that means combatting rape culture or better educating future generations.
Second, regardless of whether or not he was innocent, Kavanaugh’s reputation has undeniably been marred by Dr. Ford’s allegations. Nobody can discern the future of his professional career. He may be a stellar Supreme Court justice; he may be an awful one. But whatever the years hold in store, Kavanaugh’s tarnished legacy only threatens to undermine American faith in the government’s integrity further.
The hard truth about America is that people do not have the same power as government officials. We cannot vote on the Senate floor. We cannot plead with the President to change his nomination. However, we can unite, and there is strength in numbers. And ultimately, to prevent further Kavanaugh repeats, we need to make our voice heard, and we need to make it loud and clear: Americans — especially women — will never stand for sexual assault.