As the world watches Brett Kavanaugh become the second Associate Justice nominated by President Trump, shall we draw some parallels between the reality and the history of American politics?
It’s 1965, and America’s 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson, appointed Abe Foster, his personal lawyer, as an Associate Supreme Court Justice. In 1968, Johnson tried to elevate Foster to be a Chief Justice, it turned out that, unfortunately, Fortas violated the political ethics all the way through his career. He involved himself in Vietnam War policies on the behalf of the President, whom he was still serving as a political adviser to and continued discussing secret Court affairs with him.
It’s the 8th of October 2018. The Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice . President Trump apologises before his much-trusted nominee and accuses those who organised a ‘campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies’. As Kavanaugh replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted with liberals in the key decision of gay rights, abortions, and affirmative action, it is bound to change the balances of policies made on all major social issues in America.
There’s a reason why American political founders wanted distance between the President and the Supreme Court, so as to keep the checks and balances in place. Now, with news and debates on Kavanaugh’s allegations have pointed to a serious problem with his nomination. The concern is that there is not just a nominee’s sense of obligation to the current President, but an openly stated partisanship on his behalf.
Well, the suspicions of impartiality of some political figures are far from being new. Even so, Kavanaugh’s testimony showed just how these partisanship concerns in American politics never seem to prompt any improvements.
In early September, when Kavanaugh appeared before the Senate judiciary committee, he presented himself as ‘a neutral and impartial arbiter’, whose actions would be motivated by the rule of law, rather than his political preferences. However, his emotional and accusatory speech during the testimony two weeks ago has prompted concerns about his ability to act independently and impartially. The whole testimony process seemed unacceptably strident for both parties and for an American Supreme Court institution. The Republicans, who fiercely defended their dear President’s nominee, clashed with Democrats, who were accused of orchestrating the allegations.
Kavanaugh also claimed he had ‘fears for the future’. Well, with Supreme Court judges like that - #Me Too. Is this the kind of a judge fit for serving the needs of a democratic society? Some people would not be surprised by such a fire-and-fury behaviour of someone appointed by the current President.
Lyndon B. Johnson’s example can serve as a model of thriving partisanship not only between different political branches, but specifically between the President and his Supreme Court Judges. Mr. Trump’s dead-jokes about his non-drinking habits, which he claims to be one of his ‘only good traits’. "Can you imagine if I had, what a mess I'd be? I'd be the world's worst,” he comments.
Trump’s schadenfreude highlights not only his refute of everyone’s concern of Kavanaugh’s partisanship, but his resentment of the established political system. Despite the fact that his own brother died after struggling with alcohol abuse (but when has Trump ever been sensitive?), he continues to justify dishonesty, implying that Kavanaugh is not the worst politician out there.
As I was listening to Kavanaugh throwing out compliments and his many thanks to President Trump, I could not help thinking about Christine Blasey Ford. Even more so, I keep thinking about the 22 women, who accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Although sexual violence is such an important and complicated issue, it prompts me into questioning, whether the current President’s moral compass orchestrates the moral ethics and political directions, prevailing among the Supreme Court Justices, in the way it’s not supposed to be.
After all, the even bitter partisanship in the current parties is likely to not only harm Democrats’ power, but Republicans’ competence.