Staff Editorial: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

In recent weeks, the eyes of the media and general public have been focused on Brett Kavanaugh’s viability as a Supreme Court nominee, his past and the stories of the women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who went to a high school near Kavanaugh’s, recounted her harrowing experience at a party held by a drunken Kavanaugh and several friends in a televised hearing last week that highlighted deep partisan divides, as each side accused the other of lying. Ford, forced to publicly relive a significant traumatic experience, remained composed and professional. Kavanaugh was belligerent and obstructive, focusing on the challenges he and his family have faced since Ford’s allegations were made public last month. He attempted to frame Ford’s allegations as a Democratic conspiracy against him. Perjury is one of the most heinous crimes one can commit in court, and yet Kavanaugh, a judge, did it. Kavanaugh directly misused evidence and testimony presented in court during his trial. More important are his alleged actions and the way the culture of privilege and immunity that Kavanaugh has enjoyed his entire life may have led to them.

As a student at the elite, $55,000-a-year Georgetown Prep School and then Yale University, Kavanaugh was part of a group of people angled toward high-profile careers from early on. Kavanaugh cited the way he “busted his tail” working to get into Yale Law School — without mentioning the possible influence of his paternal grandfather’s alumni status there — as a moral defense when questioned about his drinking. This response highlights the way our culture conflates and often confuses success with morality, particularly for white men, leading to the kinds of scenes on display at the hearing: certain senators praised Kavanaugh’s kindness, honesty and generosity while Ford and two of Kavanaugh’s other accusers, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, remembered markedly different character traits.

Former university classmates of Kavanaugh have come forward to challenge his statements on his drinking in college. Chad Ludington, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh recounted that he often saw him “staggering from alcohol consumption” and that he was “belligerent and aggressive” when he was drunk; that he started a fight that left one of their mutual friends in jail. Kavanaugh tried to sweep his unsightly past behavior under the rug, saying he could not remember a time when he lost memory due to alcohol. Kavanaugh grew even angrier when he was questioned further about his history of drinking but eventually admitted that he “likes beer” and sometimes “had too much.” In the past, he may have gotten off the hook so easily due to his class and racial privilege. Regardless of how you feel about the sexual assault allegations, Kavanaugh demonstrated conduct that should disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court or any court.

To contact your representatives to voice your disapproval of Kavanaugh’s nomination, go the ACLU’s “Vote ‘No’ On Kavanaugh” page and enter your phone number, email and zipcode. You’ll be connected with a congressional staffer, at which point you can demand that your senator vote against Kavanaugh. This is a situation where one senator’s vote could make a massive difference, so making your voice heard is critical.