The Observer

We All Handled the Kavanaugh Case Wrong

Not+so+fast+%E2%80%94+Both+sides+have+mishandled+this+situation.
Not so fast — Both sides have mishandled this situation.

Not so fast — Both sides have mishandled this situation.

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Getty Images

Not so fast — Both sides have mishandled this situation.

By JORDAN MELTZER, Opinions Editor

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Almost every single American has badly botched their interpretation of the sexual misconduct allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Just about everyone, regardless of party affiliation, mishandled the Kavanaugh case in a way that is both abhorrent and dangerous. I am no exception.

Republicans absolved Kavanaugh of all guilt in the same way that Sen. Lindsey Graham did at the hearing: viciously dismissing the accusers’ claims without waiting for due process to proceed. They did this with little to no concern about the accuracy or inaccuracy of the accusers’ claims, all in the name of advancing a conservative candidate for Supreme Court Justice. Meanwhile, Democrats seized the allegations as an excuse to advance their agenda to delay the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation or prevent him from serving altogether, once again with less than adequate concern for the accuracy of the claims of anyone involved. Libertarians, independents and moderates usually chose one of either of these sides as well. Both mainstream interpretations of the witness testimonies are hypocritical, willfully ignorant and disgusting.

Let’s take a step back and remember that we were talking about accusations of sexual assault — no small crime. One accuser even went so far as to say Kavanaugh and his friends committed gang rape. While some of these claims were not corroborated by other witnesses before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they are incredibly serious allegations. And yet most of us were largely calling for either his vindication or his retribution without thoroughly investigating these severe claims or waiting for a proper authority to do so.

If these allegations are true, the American public appropriated the sexual assaults of multiple women by a rich, white and powerful man. Many Americans irresponsibly used Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick as pawns for their own respective agendas. With little exception, the bravery of their testimonies was met with less compassion than objectification, which is exactly what they feared would happen. Society has failed women and victims of sexual assault by continuing to view them as little more than political marionettes.

In Dr. Ford’s own words: “My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life … It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.” She is absolutely right, but her argument begs the question: Who was to determine Kavanaugh’s eligibility?

Without a proper and lengthy FBI investigation, the answer is none of us. Only after an extensive and exhaustive investigation into each woman’s claims should any of us have made judgments about their validity — especially the Senate Judiciary Committee and the rest of the Senate.

Having watched Dr. Ford’s testimony and questioning, I believe that she was telling the truth about Kavanaugh. But my interpretation is not canon, and perhaps there is no way to find out what is fact in this particular situation — at least not from simply listening to testimonial as the American senators and general public did.

The best way, and maybe the only way, to discern the truth would have been to conduct an investigation under the full scope of the FBI’s power — not a rushed, weeklong glance — into the testimonies, evidence and facts provided by the accused and the accusers. It was not the responsibility of, nor even the place for, me or any other layperson to make a definitive judgment about the truthfulness of these allegations, and it was especially inappropriate for us to use those allegations to deliver a verdict on Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. We should have left that job to the people who were elected and appointed to figure it out.

In the case of Judge Kavanaugh, who is now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it might be too late to push for a proper investigation. But in the future, whether an allegation targets a Supreme Court nominee or someone in your theology class, the worst thing to do is to see accusers as mere pawns. Let us remember to listen — truly listen — to accusers, as studies show there is at least a 94 percent chance that they are telling the truth. Let us commend the bravery of survivors strong enough to come forward. And let us treat each other with the respect and dignity that humans inherently deserve.

About the Writer
JORDAN MELTZER, Opinions Editor

Jordan Meltzer, Gabelli School of Business '20, is an Opinions Editor for The Observer. A Global Business major concentrating in Communication and Media...

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