The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court is the latest controversy to unfold under Donald Trump’s Presidential reign. When it was announced that Kavanaugh would be Trump’s second addition to the Supreme Court, Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick all came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them during high school and college.
These accusations triggered mass protests across the country with the #MeToo movement being a prominent voice in the fight to prevent Kavanaugh’s appointment. Thousands of women from across the country have been protesting since late September and hundreds have since been arrested.
Trump insists that Ford, Ramirez and Swetnick are all lying and Kavanaugh claims that their accusations were politically motivated. However, harried by the widespread outrage, Trump reluctantly allowed the FBI to conduct a one-week investigation into whether the claims against Kavanaugh were true.
Due to the FBI’s time limit and inability to force people to undergo questioning, the investigation was to a large degree hamstrung. The FBI did finish their investigation in less than a week and did find that the three individuals accusing the nominee were not working in corroboration with one another. However, they did fail to interview both Ford and Swetnick as well as key witnesses suggested by the victims, classmates that attended the same high school and college as Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh himself. Consequently, they found no reason to support revoking Kavanaugh’s appointment.
This incompetent investigation triggered further outrage amongst Americans, particularly women. On the day of the vote on whether to appoint Kavanaugh as the new Supreme Justice, hundreds of women gathered outside the Senate chanting “I do not consent” and “we believe survivors.” Despite their pleas to reject Trump’s nomination, the Senate voted 50-48 in favour of Kavanaugh, thus cementing his position on the Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump, a man that has been accused of sexual assault twenty-two times in the past, was ecstatic with Kavanaugh’s victory. He tweeted “I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!”
However, sexual assault survivors view Kavanaugh’s appointment as a slap in the face. By not taking the time to thoroughly examine whether Kavanaugh was actually guilty of the crimes he was accused of, the notion that the voices of sexual assault survivors are not being adequately listened to has been reinforced.
Adding insult to injury, Kavanaugh was sworn in on the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement. Over the past year, #MeToo has gained a lot of momentum and has been influential in supporting woman who have been sexually abused and encouraging them to share their stories. The founder of the organization, Tarana Burke, says that whilst Kavanaugh’s appointment is “depressing and unfortunate”, she does not view the event as a setback. Burke believes the Kavanaugh case has “galvanized” allies and victims of sexual assault and shows that “the outcome may not always be what you want, but there is still power in coming forward and giving voice.”
While Trump has divided the nation once again, Burke encourages members of the #MeToo movement to remain united, as it is their efforts as a collective unit that will help them overcome the long-lasting ramifications that may occur during Kavanaugh’s tenure on the Supreme Court.