The Ford-Kavanaugh Case: Explained

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Who is Brett Kavanaugh

He is a former White House Staff Secretary and current judge at the District Court of Columbia, US. He has been nominated by Donald Trump as the next Supreme Court judge after the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. But his road to judge hood has been rocky – met with rampant protests, controversies and sexual assault charges. His recent roadblock was the harassment case by Christine Blasey Ford which gave Kavanaugh an image of a patriarch and chauvinist. Why?

Who is Christine Ford

She is a psychology professor at Stanford and a former high school batchmate of Kavanaugh. In July 2018, she first revealed about being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in high school which set a furore among the media. She has described the incident in detail in various interviews and the struggle she went through trying to overcome the trauma.

In the weeks after her revelation, she has reportedly received anonymous death threats  and been called vile and hateful names by supporters of Trump and his judge-elect. After Ford came forward, two other women – Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick also made sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. 

But the latter’s council has negated all such claims and maintained this stance even as Ford took the assault case to court.

What happened in the first court hearing?

If you ever wanted a vivid display of what patriarchy is and why it persists, then this was it. There were two parts to the hearing. The first part had a woman who spoke out and whose allegations were met with indignant rage. The plaintiff (Ford) was an independent vulnerable woman with a strong voice who was credited by Democratic senators. She once again explained the horror of her attack and how it sent her not prolonged PTSD.

While giving a nod to listening to the woman’s accusations, the Republicans (Kavanaugh’s party) responded with calling Kavanaugh an “innocent victim”, “poor man”, this “pillar of the community”, this “guy’s guy”.

Then came the second part of the defendant (Kavanaugh). Critics have termed his testimony as raging. He made sure not to speak ill of the woman but at the same time spoke with power while warning the Democratic senators, “What goes around, comes around.” Much of the ongoing media scrutiny has focused on Kavanaugh’s fiery testimony during the Judiciary Committee hearing, when he not only defended himself but also levied a series of partisan attacks directed at Democrats.

Why was the hearing termed chauvinistic?

Firstly, it came as a shock when there was no woman on the jury for a sexual assault case. Secondly, the Kavanaugh along with the party senators used their clout to prevent Mark Judge– the key witness of the assault from subpoena. They also prevented the FBI from starting investigations on Ford’s demands. Kavanaugh’s prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell too spent little time questioning the core of Ford’s experience and instead asked what most senators thought were trivial questions like “why her fear of flying hadn’t prevented her from taking past vacations, and who paid for a $200 polygraph test.”

The prosecutor nearly embarrassed Ford by calling her a publicity seeker. First she outrightly called Ford’s assault story – a lie, but then later on realising anger for her statement in the audience, she insisted that Ford’s memory of the incident foggy. And that she may have been assaulted but she doesn’t remember who her attacker was.

Whom do we believe, and when?

The hearing day played out like a set piece. In the morning, Ford showed how high the bar was to even have a chance of being believed. Her story is specific, credible, serious. She tried her best to be polite to the senators, to avoid offence, to show gratitude to the committee for listening to her. She says she’s 100 percent sure it was Kavanaugh who attacked her.

In the afternoon, Kavanaugh simply denied all charges. He denied ever being blackout drunk. He denied ever forgetting anything of importance. He denied the possibility he was wrong. He said that his suffering was immense, unfair, unforgivable. “I’m never going to get my reputation back. My life is totally and permanently altered.”

All of this was, perhaps, predictable. One the days, supporters have completely broken down every word of the hearing and proved opposite sides liars. But without an investigation in place, little can be explored into the truth. Whom to believe, the high profile senator who refuses to carry on investigations or the woman with little respect  left to go by now?




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