by Alanna Carlson | Columnist
Most people would agree that in recent history, the federal government — more specifically, Congress — has been a disaster of inefficiency and, often, corruption. What many cannot agree on, however, is who or what is at fault for these problems. The younger generation blames the older; liberals blame conservatives; progressives blame old-guard liberals; some people blame laws or race or religion or a whole slew of other things. But by far the biggest divide, both among voters and politicians themselves, is the divide between Democrat and Republican.
While division of sort has always existed in politics, party politics has entrenched itself into our government more in recent years than ever before. Anyone with access to the internet or a TV can see the rise in divisive rhetoric on both sides, both from voters and politicians themselves. The election of President Donald Trump is a perfect example of the echo chambers that both sides have built for themselves — every major news organization and election poll showing Hillary Clinton well in the lead, and the outcome of the election telling a very different story.
In more current events, the most prevalent example of this divide is the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice. If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will be replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was well known as the Court’s main swing vote. The Republicans in Congress want another reliable conservative vote to fill the vacant seat. The Democrats in Congress want recompense for the loss of a Supreme Court appointee in Merrick Garland during President Barack Obama’s last term in office. Republicans, facing a difficult midterm election season, want to confirm a nominee before the midterms. Democrats, feeling optimistic about the midterms, want to delay the confirmation.
Among all of the partisan politics playing out in the Senate, some deeply troubling circumstances surrounding the confirmation hearings of Judge Kavanaugh get lost. One of those circumstances is the sheer number of documents pertaining to Kavanaugh that have not been released to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because Republicans are so eager to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court before midterm elections, over 100,000 pages of pertinent documents have been withheld from the Committee, according to The New York Times. Of the documents that have been released, 42,000 of them were released mere hours before Kavanaugh’s hearings were set to begin, according to The Washington Times.
Not only do the lack of transparency and time to review documents break the norms of the way that Supreme Court confirmations are supposed to work, they’re also completely asinine. Whether Republican or Democrat, the Senators on the Judiciary Committee should be committed to fully and thoroughly vetting any nominee to the Supreme Court. It is deeply troubling that the Republicans in the Senate are attempting to ram through any nominee, regardless of proper vetting, because of fear of losing the nomination to the Democrats after midterm elections. It is equally troubling that the Democrats in the Senate seem set on denying any nominee that the White House puts forward, no matter their qualifications.
Then there is the matter of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault some 35 years ago. While this accusation cannot mean any legal ramifications for Kavanaugh due to statute of limitations laws regarding sexual assault, it should mean a whole lot in regards to his Supreme Court confirmation. An allegation as serious as Dr. Ford’s should be taken seriously and given the time needed to investigate its accuracy. Instead, we have the Senate Judiciary Committee signalling that it will delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation by less than a week to investigate Dr. Ford’s allegations. By any normal standard, this is a ludicrously short time frame to investigate a serious allegation.
But whether or not Brett Kavanaugh is guilty of the alleged crime is not the point. Whether or not there is something hiding in those 100,000 pages of undisclosed documents is not the point. Whether or not Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court is not the point. The point is that partisan and party politics have become so entrenched in our government that it no longer functions the way it was meant to. Instead of a Supreme Court confirmation process free of party biases, we have Senators on both sides acting like petulant children, and the possibility of a Supreme Court Justice about whom we know very little and who has the specter of a sexual assault allegation hanging over his head. This is not the way our system is supposed to work. It is high time that the representatives on both sides of the aisle begin behaving like adults and thinking about what is best for the country, not their own popularity.