When Judge Antony Kennedy retired from the U.S. Supreme Court on 31st July, 2018, the task selecting the nominee who would become the next associate judge fell into the hands of President Donald Trump. Indeed, choosing a Supreme Court Justice was “one of the most profound responsibilities of the President of the United States.” Earlier in 2017, his nominee Neil Gorsuch passed the U.S. Senate confirmation vote 54-45 to replace the retired Judge Antonin Scalia, with all the Republicans voting in his favor. However, the situation was tricky this time – as Judge Kennedy often proved to be the “swing vote” in major judicial decisions. As many of Trump’s instinctive orders, including his infamous “Muslim Ban”, were dependent on the Court’s ruling – he invariably had the choice of nominating a conservative minded judge who would uphold the same values as him.
Therefore, he decided to nominate Brett Kavanaugh, who had the most conservative voting record on the D.C. Court between 2003 and 2018. As the Republicans hold the majority of seat in the U.S. Senate, Trump imagined Kavanaugh to sail through the Senate confirmation hearing procedure. His image, after all, was that of a quintessential American soccer-dad who regularly attended church along with his family. Obtaining his education from the prestigious Yale University only bolstered his profile among the Senate Judiciary Committee.
However, that façade slowly began to disappear, as multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. At the forefront of the allegations was Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high-school party in 1981. His former Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, also came forward to accuse Kavanagh of “indecent exposure” at a university party. While Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations, pressure from the public as well as from Democratic Senate members forced Republicans to consider Ford’s testimony.
On 27th September, 2018, Ford delivered a calm and moving testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Passing a polygraph test prior to the hearing, she told the committee members that an intoxicated Kavanaugh tried to take her clothes off while placing his hand on her mouth to avoid her from screaming. Earlier, Kavanaugh’s classmates had also portrayed him as a belligerent drunk who would incite fights at the slightest provocation. When it was Kavanaugh’s turn to defend the allegations, he portrayed the demeanor of an unhinged and outraged person, blaming Democrats for orchestrating the elaborate plan to undermine Trump’s choice. While Ford’s testimony failed to change the outlook of Republican Senators, the committee granted one week worth of time to the FBI to investigate the allegations. The issue of selecting the next Supreme Court Justice, an extremely bipartisan case, had become a fight of Republicans vs. Democrats.
As the Republicans hold 51-49 majority in the Senate, at least two swing votes are required from them to stop an alleged sexual predator from becoming a judge in the highest court of the country. Three Republican senators – Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Maine’s Susan Collins, and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, are on the wire about their decision. The reports of the FBI investigation might provide them with the final straw to vote against Kavanaugh, or they could just turn a blind eye like other Republicans. If the later does happen, a belligerent drunk accused of multiple sexual assaults would the voice of reason in the country’s highest court and would provide the deciding vote that can overturn several progressive rulings in the process.