A few days before the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, Christine Blasey Ford stepped forward and accused him of sexually assaulting her during his high school years. Kavanaugh allegedly told the media before such accusations were made that he was a quiet boy back at high school, studying hard, and had never touched alcohol.
People quickly divided into two camps: some bashed Kavanaugh for such an appalling act, while others came to his defence, saying that this accusation was simply a political move to keep him out of the Supreme Court. Tabloids went as far as calling the alleged victim a witch, hurling hexes at Kavanaugh. What should we make of this whole affair?
It would be foolish to think that this was not a political move, but that alone should not discredit Ford’s statement and accusations against the new judge. The motive of the victim is clearly questionable but that does not mean that none of what he is accused of has happened, nor should it undermine the significance of such an issue.
The integrity and character of a judge is of utmost importance. Not only do they wield the power to strike down legislation, and declare acts of the government to be unconstitutional, they also have the power to shape the development of the law on important issues. If Ford’s accusations are true, this doesn’t just mean that Kavanaugh is a terrible person, but it necessarily reflects upon the values he holds dear and how he views women in general. It bears upon his integrity as a person.
While these accusations may not be true, there is something else in Kavanaugh that is more alarming.
Out of the nine current Supreme Court judges in America, two (Kavanaugh included) went to the same school – Georgetown Prep – and it really isn’t an ordinary school. It has its own 93-acre golf course, a swimming pool and an indoor track. The problem with the current American judicial system (and most judicial systems across the globe, including the UK), is that the heads of the judicial system are predominantly white, rich, middle-aged men from privileged backgrounds. This is true for multiple reasons: first, law school is not cheap but secondly, the legal industry in itself is dominated by white, rich, middle-aged men and gender biases and stereotypes reinforce this systemic issue.
The problem with most judicial systems is that judges, who lack democratic mandates, are often perceived to be sitting in ivory towers handing down judgments on issues that disproportionately affect those who are under-privileged – and Kavanaugh as a judge of the Supreme Court seems to embody everything that is wrong with the whole system. His apparent sexism and utter disrespect for women is serious but there is certainly more to the issue.