One amazing feature of the United States government is the separation of powers. While some countries are ruled by a monarch or a body of people, America has its authority divided into three branches. Congress as the legislative branch passes laws. The President as the executive branch enforces these laws. The Supreme Court as the judicial branch interprets the laws. While the citizens vote for congress people and the President, Supreme Court justices are appointed and approved by the other two branches, respectively. This allows judges to serve for decades, making rulings that will impact the country. Each time a seat opens up, the process of nominating and approving is an important decision. Recently, the confirmation process of Justice Brett Kavanaugh generated lots of controversy during a time where our country has many differences of opinion.
The process of nominating and confirming a potential Supreme Court Justice is very thorough. When a vacancy on the bench occurs, the President must find someone to fill it, as Article II of The Constitution states. The President picks out who he or she wants, which is followed by various meetings with advisors and certain senators, along with background checks by the FBI. The President then formally announces the candidate, and Congress’ turn comes up. The Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings with the nominee, questioning credibility and other factors, and then decides whether to allow the senate to vote on the nominee. If they pass the nomination, the whole senate takes a vote on whether to approve the nominee. A simple majority is required. If it passes, the nominee will serve on the Supreme Court. This process has lots of steps, but it is crucial as it prevents any one branch from having too much power.
Brett Kavanaugh became the latest Supreme Court justice after encountering much controversy. This was the second seat for President Donald Trump to fill, the first being Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed and confirmed last year. This recent nomination came after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. This news was good for conservative Americans, as Kavanaugh would bring in a strong conservative vote, replacing Kennedy who was known as a swing vote. Senate Republican leaders set a confirmation date that some Democrats complained was too soon for them to review Kavanaugh’s papers and files. They argued Republicans wanted to finish the process before the mid-terms, but there is no law stating a wait process. The process seemed to be moving along smoothly until Dr. Christine Ford stated Justice Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. The Senate Judiciary Committee rightfully postponed time to look into the matter. A hearing was arranged, which received lots of criticism.
The hearing was held in September, and both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh spoke. While no side had sufficient evidence, Judge Kavanaugh had a calendar noting his everyday actions which could be accounted for. Dr. Ford could not remember when the assault took place and had no corroborating evidence. While Kavanaugh said he was innocent, he respectfully stated he thought Dr. Ford was telling the truth, but had the wrong person in mind. The allegations were not brought up until September, when Senator Dianne Feinstein told the FBI. Her office supposedly had a letter from Dr. Ford from late July, regarding details of her statement. While Senator Feinstein and her office was trying to respect Dr. Ford’s wishes, they should not have waited approximately two months and then suddenly decide to release the letter. Such heavy allegations against someone about to assume a high seat in the government should be brought into the light, so Feinstein had no reason to hold the letter for so long. In addition, the hearing committee received criticism during and afterwards for their handling and questions. Kavanaugh said his family was destroyed and his image smeared. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina denounced the hearing as “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us. . . this is not a job interview, this is hell.” The Senate Judiciary Committee approved of Kavanaugh 11-10, and later the Senate approved Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court with a 50-48 vote with two senators not voting. The hearing will be remembered for a long time.
With Kavanaugh now appointed, the Supreme Court will have a more conservative stance. Kavanaugh is known to hold conservative views on issues including abortion, gun rights, and government. His filling of Anthony Kennedy gives a conservative lead of 5-4. In addition, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both liberal and in their eighties, might leave the bench in the near future. Republicans might have an opportunity to make the court a 6-3 or even 7-2 conservative majority. This would heavily influence the future of our country and government.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation. Whatever they determine is what we follow. With their ability to remain on the court for decades, we should pray and hope for justices who will pass laws that follow God. The court is able to interpret laws however they see, and with our country divided on so many issues, we would be safer with people who demonstrate God’s character.