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Kavanaugh assault claims made a partisan issue

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Image: United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard extraordinary evidence from Dr Christine Blasey Ford. Dr Ford gave emotional testimony of allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party when they were both teenagers. Kavanaugh would vehemently deny the allegations, sitting in the same chair as Ford had earlier in the hearing.

Despite the gravity of the allegations, during the hearing Senators seemed to take party positions rather than putting their focus towards unearthing the truth. Republican senators attempted to cast doubt on Dr Ford's account and Democrats tried to bolster it. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was particularly vocal in condemning Democrats, who he sees as using the allegations as an "unethical sham" to cause yet another blow to the Trump presidency. The focus, rather than being on establishing the true events surrounding Dr Ford's allegations, have been on her motivation for coming forward. Not only is this unhelpful for the hearing, it is also a damaging message to convey to victims of sexual assault.Members of the Supreme Court have shaped and continue to shape modern America.

The Supreme Court contend with issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control. In dealing with these issues the nine members of the Supreme Court must have a strong moral compass, as well as legal sense. They also hold a life-term in the role, therefore a Supreme Court member can shape the US for a whole generation. It seems that American lawmakers are playing a dangerous game when they make their decision based on partisan divides.

On Friday, Brett Kavanaugh's nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee; however, with a crucial caveat. Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator, agreed to approve Kavanaugh's nomination, but only on condition of a one-week FBI inquiry into the allegations. The outcome of this inquiry may prove crucial in determining how the full Senate will vote.

Jeff Flake's decision to make his vote conditional upon an FBI inquiry came as something of a surprise, as he had already indicated that he intended to approve Kavanaugh. In what has been a hearing conducted largely on party lines, this was a move that crossed those boundaries.

Democrats have praised Flake's decision. albeit in a qualified manner, afterall he did approve the nomination. However, in such a polarised political environment, it is likely that few will be as generous as Flake in setting aside their party loyalties and assessing whether Brett Kavanaugh is a worthy nominee to the Supreme Court.

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