One’s reputation is their most valuable asset. It is beliefs generally held about a person that elicit their legitimacy, or lack thereof. The Supreme Court — an institution that rightfully retains a reputation of integrity and justice — holds vast legitimacy. The decisions concluded hold the same degree of authority as law.
The behavior Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh displayed last Thursday during his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee was not in line with the reputation of the Supreme Court. Regardless of the allegations of sexual misconduct Kavanaugh is accused of, it is his temperament and lack of composure that should be considered by the Senate before Friday’s cloture vote.
During his testimony, Kavanaugh shouted and glowered, connected challenges of his authority as a potential justice to the Clintons and even fired back at the senators whose job it was to question him. I find it hard to imagine Neil Gorsuch or Ruth Bader Ginsburg acting in the same manner.
Part of the judicial process is questioning. A claim is made and then investigated. However, on Thursday, Kavanaugh showed contempt for the very process he himself is supposed to preside over if confirmed.
Judicial inquiry is how results are concluded; Kavanaugh himself even stated, “Allegations of sexual assault must always be taken seriously, always.” Yet, despite this statement, Kavanaugh appeared disdainful for the very process of doing so.
According to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, “A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.” However, during his testimony, Kavanaugh maintained anything but “high standards of conduct.” He likened the inquiry into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations to a political plot. He said he wanted due process but raged against the very notion.
Furthermore, between bouts of indignance, Kavanaugh presented himself with the innocence of a choir boy, one who attended church regularly and occasionally had a few beers with his friends, a dedicated athlete and a student who abstained from sexual conduct for several years.
However, Kavanaugh’s classmates have claimed otherwise. Some have said Brett Kavanaugh did not just “like beer,” but that he was a consistently aggressive drinker.
The problem is not with the fact Kavanaugh drank during high school or college, it is the notion that Kavanaugh deliberately misrepresented himself while speaking about it under oath. Moreover, Kavanaugh not only talked around his alcohol consumption, but his overall character.
When questioned by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in regards to the phrase “Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor,” in Kavanaugh’s yearbook, Kavanaugh artfully maneuvered around the phrase’s connection to excessive alcohol consumption. This was not the only slang Kavanaugh finagled around; from “Devil’s Triangle” to “boofing,” Kavanaugh provided definitions inconsistent with their colloquial meanings.
This was the same issue Bill Clinton faced decades earlier: misrepresentation and lies were the compounding reasons behind his impeachment, more so than his sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. The point senators should consider is not the substance of the information, but the manner in which it was delivered.
If Kavanaugh did not respect the oath under which he swore, how can we expect him to uphold a position on the highest court in the land?
The scope of the FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh that occured this week was limited and did not encompass a full examination of Kavanaugh’s character. Only nine people were interviewed and only in relation to sexual misconduct. A multitude of former Kavanaugh classmates say they have stories to tell, especially in regards to his misrepresentation. Yet, they were not interviewed.
If Kavanaugh is appointed, he will serve for life. Do we want a justice who misrepresents himself? A justice without respect for the process of judicial questioning, a man lacking integrity and a man with allegations of sexual misconduct against him?
The United States is a country of more than 325.7 million people. We can find someone else to sit on the Supreme Court. Someone who does not have any allegations of sexual misconduct. Someone who will be consistent with the court’s honorable reputation. Someone who deserves to sit on the highest court in our nation.
Catherine Buchaniec is a Medill freshman. She can be contacted at email@example.com. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.