Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has faced more doubters than just about any other Supreme Court Justice in American history. This time last year, the hearings centered around Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct dominated the news and nearly blocked his confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Fast forward 12 months, and not much has changed. The newest member of the highest court in the land is facing more allegations from multiple women. One of these women, Deborah Ramirez, has claimed she encountered Brett Kavanaugh on the Yale University campus in 1983.
As Ramirez’s story goes, Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed his genitals to her at a party. While many of their peers brushed it off, Ramirez was deeply upset by the incident.
After the news broke, top Democrats immediately called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, while President Trump took to Twitter to encourage Kavanaugh to “sue people for libel.” These emotional responses mean little until all the facts are released, but I predict none of them will bring down Kavanaugh or affect his standing on the Supreme Court.
First of all, it is highly unlikely that anyone will bring a criminal investigation against Kavanaugh. Even before his confirmation last fall by the United States Senate, Kavanaugh (along with accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford) gave an emotional testimony before a Congressional hearing, not in a court of law. Given this setting and these onlookers, it was nearly impossible to convict him of any formal crime.
Kavanaugh was not even a member of the Supreme Court at the time of the Ford hearings. It would have been much easier to act upon any evidence against him then, as the concept of impeachment was not in the equation.
As I stated earlier, several prominent Democrats (including 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren) have cited the need to impeach Kavanaugh. But impeaching a Supreme Court Justice is a lengthy and tedious process. Only the notoriously corrupt Samuel Chase has been impeached, and he was acquitted by the Senate in 1805. Chase remained in office until his death six years later.
Constitutionally, it would take a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate to remove Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court. However, with 53 of the 100 Senate seats firmly under Republican control, I cannot envision a scenario where the outnumbered Democrats flip 20 senators to obtain a 67-member supermajority.
And if The New York Times’ coverage of Deborah Ramirez serves as any indication, it is not even clear that all 47 Democratic senators would vote against Kavanaugh. Apparently, Ramirez told friends that she “doesn’t remember” the alleged incident at Yale University. This fact was critically omitted by the editors of The New York Times.
As such, sexual misconduct allegations and the conflicting accounts surrounding them are often dismissed as hearsay. We followed the story of Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh in the weeks leading up to his confirmation and it eventually became clear that Ford’s heartfelt and believable testimony did not present enough evidence to convict Kavanaugh from a legal standpoint.
Kavanaugh is not the first powerful political figure to be accused of sexual misconduct, and he certainly will not be the last. Kavanaugh’s fellow Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas faced a similar situation just before his confirmation in 1991, when Anita Hill came forward and testified against him. Hill was not the only woman to make such claims regarding Thomas, but Thomas remains a member of the Supreme Court today.
In short, no allegations against Clarence Thomas derailed his career. The same will prove true for Brett Kavanaugh. While I do not discredit any of the women who came forward, there is unfortunately not enough evidence from either party to warrant a further investigation. Whether you love or loathe him, Kavanaugh is here to stay.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite, File
Carson Swick is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.