Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as new Supreme Justice

Decision shocks both country and campus



A group of young women stand in protest in Chicago, Illinois, in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, saying, “You are not alone. We believe you.”

Meghan Schmitt, Culture Editor

After weeks of media-driven contention involving testimonies and speculation of sexual assault allegations, the GOP-led Congress has decided to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice of the Supreme Court with a 50-48 vote.  

The process began with 4-hour testimonies giving by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the primary accuser, and Justice Kavanaugh.

Dr. Ford gave a calm, credible, and accommodating account of the event, backing up her testimony with scientific analysis of the brain’s response to trauma.  She apologized for the gaps in her memory, but stated under oath with 100% certainty that Kavanaugh had been her assailant.

Justice Kavanaugh began his testimony with a vitriolic declamation of the Democrats who had supported Dr. Ford’s allegations.   He defended himself with an aged calendar from 1983 as well as a heartfelt admission that he liked beer, and still likes beer.

Between the testimonies and the vote was a brief FBI investigation which many individuals felt was lackluster, merely a shallow attempt to acquiesce to the demands of the American people without giving the matter the attention which it deserved.  

The FBI only interviewed nine people in total, ignoring 22 known persons who could have attested to the assault allegations or Kavanaugh’s history of binge drinking.  Only one copy of the report was made, and the senators were given only one hour each to read it before passing it off to the next legislator.

Innocent or not, the gravity of Kavanaugh’s situation demanded a more thorough background check.   

Several Saint Anselm students and a member of the faculty came forward to state their own issues and opinions about this turbulent process.

Professor Ann Holbrook offered her view on Ford’s testimony, stating, “I, and so many others, believe Ford, as one human being to another. No actress is that good. Why should she have been mistaken about something as fundamental as who was the boy holding his hand over her mouth, making her fear for her life?”

“She manifested absolute certainty,” Holbrook continued. “And I believe that in that situation, I would also have been certain.”  

Holbrook also raised questions about Kavanaugh’s behavior at his hearing, commenting, “Why could Kavanaugh not say this: ‘I apologize for the deeply insulting references to the Devil’s Triangle and to Renate in my yearbook. I was part of an adolescent male culture that celebrated sexual conquest and the denigration of women, and I did not have the maturity or experience to go against it.

“I don’t know what happened to Dr. Ford, but I’m very sorry that she–like so many women–suffered sexual assault, and I hope that the entire world works to educate boys and men against such thought and behavior and to make such attacks rarer. I understand that she believed it her civic duty to report such an assault.

“I can only tell you that I have no memory of this, and she has no evidence. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that as Americans, we can recognize that this partisan warfare does no one any good. I apologize for my blatantly partisan statements during the hearing’?”

Senior double Secondary Education and English major Nina Lukens said, “Watching the Kavanaugh proceedings was like witnessing a terrible accident; I sat there, completely powerless, yet extremely emotionally invested as Dr. Ford gave her testimony.”

Lukens added, “My heart sank as I read the headlines that Kavanaugh had been confirmed. Sexual assault is something that has deeply impacted my life and the lives of so many women and men around the world. When I listened to news reporters, politicians, and other peers or family members discussing the trial, I could not help but be discouraged and disheartened by the fact that such a personal and traumatic issue was being viewed as yet another partisan topic that pinned those at Capitol Hill against each other once again.”

Senior International Relations major Wesley Vanderburgh said to The Crier, “I’m disappointed and ashamed, but not surprised, at the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. I think it’s just the latest institutionalization of rape culture in the United States, which forces me to come to terms with my male privilege and use it to create a more just world.”

“I hope others learn to do the same,” Vanderburgh concluded.

The fact that the severity of sexual assault became a pawn of partisan politics was not lost on students.  

Lukens said, “However, as I watched the woman who represented and stood up for so many others be mocked, slandered, and jeered at, I could not help but feel enraged at the injustice that such courage could be taken as a political ploy.”

Emerald Shea, a junior English major, responded to the situation with: “Stories of sexual assault aren’t meant to be weaponized and they aren’t female-exclusive. As a person who doesn’t identify with either party, both sides of the trial were scrutinized by the public for a reason. The situation was handled poorly and whether Kavanaugh truly is innocent or guilty, there is corruption in our legal system.”

Holbrook also addressed this partisanship, stating, “I was appalled by Kavanagh’s assertion that this is all the result of left-wing opposition groups and their leftover Clinton rage. While I fully admit that they exploited her story to express their anger and try to stop his nomination, I don’t believe she had ANY reason to do this other than she thought it her ‘civic duty,’ as she said.”

“I applaud her bravery,” Holbrook continued. “She’s a reasonable, credible woman, not anyone’s pawn, someone who has spent her life doing careful research, who understands that evidence and logic must prevail when making claims. To my mind, Kavanaugh’s partisan rage should disqualify him from the Supreme Court.”

Holbrook went on to say that she would hope a person holding such a position of power, “someone who will interpret laws that affect the entire world eventually,” could keep a “cooler head” and remember that “he will be deciding cases for all Americans, not just Republicans.” She also noted that “Kavanaugh lacks judicial temperament.”

This election has roused activism amongst those who feel as if the system has failed them. Many signs point to voter turnout for the 2018 midterm elections being greater than in previous midterms.

When asked about how Anselmians could move forward, Lukens responded, “I love my country. I have always been a proud American although I am deeply aware of the faults that plague our system.”

Lukens said that, while watching the proceedings, she felt a deeper sense of urgency and responsibility as an American woman.

“An American woman who has the right to vote, and an American woman who relentlessly believes that this country can stand for the principles on which it was made,” Lukens said.

She continued, “Although I am extremely disappointed about the outcome of these events, in order to cope I always try to take some sort of lesson out of experiences such as these. In this case, I wish for the students and faculty of our campus community to continue to strengthen their skills and talents through the privilege that is education.”

Lukens wishes for the women of this campus to “take this opportunity to build each other up and be a refuge for one another.”

She additionally wishes to see a “universal respect for sexual assault survivors and for all men and women on this campus to hold themselves accountable,” and to listen to others whenever it is needed.

“We do not need to look upon this event as something to grieve,” Lukens concluded, “but rather as an incentive for us all to become more educated, respectful, and aware that we belong to one another, and should take care of one another no matter what.”