Two peaceful protesters are holding signs in opposition of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The rally is being held outside of the Supreme Court on the day of the final vote being overlooked by sergeant officers.
On Saturday of Oct. 6, 2018, the Senate voted 50-48, confirming President Donald Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Although three women came forward, accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his high school and college years, he denied the allegations and proceeded in his confirmation.
Kavanagh was born in Washington D.C. and attended Georgetown prep, an all-boys preparatory school in Rockville, Maryland. He grew up in a highly conservative social circle and went straight to law school after graduating from Yale University, later serving five years in the administration of President George W. Bush as an associate council and staff secretary and then circuit court judge for Washington D.C.
When appointed for the seat on the Supreme Court, it appeared that he would proceed without much challenge. Days before the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on Kavanagh’s Supreme Court confirmation, Christine Ford publicly came forward to express her experience of sexual assault and attempt to convince the Senate to change their mind.
Ford is a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California. Upon hearing Kavanaugh was nominated for a position on the Supreme Court, she made a modest attempt to notify the members of the Senate of the candidate’s past. In a confidential letter sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ford accused a teenage Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a house party in Maryland in the early 1980’s and suggested that the Senate should rethink their decision.
However, the Senate proceeded with the nomination regardless. With the confirmation vote approaching, Ford decided she needed to take matters into her own hands and that the Senate needed to hear her experience in person. Kavanaugh continued to deny the claims, but it appeared as though the odds of confirmation were against him. The FBI made an additional investigation into the allegations that concluded less than a week later with no corroboration to the accounts, which caused Democrats to label the investigation as “lazy” and sparking enragement to the advocates of women’s rights and sexual assault survivors.
The protests against Kavanaugh’s confirmation on the day of the final vote of Friday October 5 were immense, including a large population from the Women’s March and individuals who simply oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“I just decided on Thursday night that I would go,” says Tamara Bakewell, 59, a public health worker in the State of Oregon who participated in the rally against the vote for Kavanaugh. “I got on a plane and arrived [in Washington DC] on Friday evening.”
She claims that many of them came as individuals who simply wanted to voice their opinions with their words and bodies as an act of peaceful protest. “We wanted to draw attention to the injustice that was happening,” recounts Bakewell.
Some people came from all over the country. In an email she wrote to her friends and followers, Bakewell states “I met one of Murkowski’s constituents, an Alaska Native” who traveled all the way from Hawaii just to protest. “Her name was Claudia, and she was just sitting alone on the steps of the Supreme Court, writing in a journal.”
Bakewell was among the people protesting on the gallery upstairs despite being aware of the risks she would be subverted to. “I just didn’t care if I got arrested,” she says.
As the Sergeant Arms Staff came to manage the protesters, there was a scuffle and people were dragged out and arrested.
“I was told for the third time to sit down,” Bakewell recalls as she was standing in protest. She eventually decided to see herself out before someone grabbed her and put her in handcuffs. She and 13 other women were arrested. “We were held somewhere on the capitol grounds.” She says they were put in a detention room that looked like a gym with approximately 25 men and 250 women. They were seated in chairs and had their mug shots taken, which took a total of five hours. Fortunately, Bakewell got away with just a fine and did not get her phone or personal belongings taken, as they were being stowed in a church that was covering jail support.
With his incredible unpopularity from a range of people—survivors to feminists to people who believe in peaceful protest—the main excuse from the right-wing party behind Kavanagh’s seemingly inevitable confirmation stems primarily from his strong standing as a conservative. According to an article from the Washington Post, titled, “Issues for Brett Kavanaugh: the president who chose him and the Supreme Court he would change,” “The politics of the Trump age only add to the battle over a judge whose lifetime appointment could seal a consistently right leaning majority that the conservative legal movement has long labored to establish.”
One woman who was in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Lori A. Ringhand, a University of Georgia law professor with an expertise in Supreme Court confirmation hearings stated, “This is an appointment that almost certainly will change the ideological makeup of the court in a meaningful way.” Lisa S. Blatt, a Washington lawyer who considers herself a close friend of Kavanagh, argued “I don’t see him as remotely controversial. He’s such an obvious, conventional choice for a conservative. If Jeb Bush were president, he would have picked [Kavanaugh] before Neil Gorsuch.” Although the excuse revolves around the fact that conservatives believe their side is best suited for following the rules of the constitution, it is clear that the right-wing party is primarily interested in submitting their own members into high levels of power, regardless of if they are credibly accused of sexual assault.
Although Kavanaugh ended up winning the majority of the votes, Bakewell has no regrets peacefully protesting against the final decision. Afterwards, she wrote a letter to Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, describing her experiences in the Senate and her thankfulness to the way the police force treated her and the protesters so civilly. She also addressed her concerns about how their current administration may take away the Public’s First amendment rights for peaceful protest and thanking them “for standing firm against this nomination.”