Current Affairs

What does the Brett Kavanaugh farrago actually mean for the Supreme Court?

Fortunately, the balance of power still lies elsewhere, says The Jackal’s man in America

Since I wrote this column about the Kavanaugh nomination, all hell has erupted.

A woman named Christine Ford accused the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually attacking her many decades ago, when they were both teenagers. As so often happens in America, a subject we work night and day to suppress from our collective consciousness finds a way to erupt like a boil on the nation’s nose tip, and suddenly the country stops to have a fervent argument with itself.

Is she right? Is he right? Who’s got proof? Which Senator misbehaved? More lines were drawn than Rand and McNally plotted during their lifetimes. In the end, the patriarchy once again prevailed, and Judge Kavanaugh ascended to the high court, though this fight will surely be re-litigated in the media, if not in an impeachment hearing.

‘In the end, the patriarchy once again prevailed’

In the end, all the controversy has only strengthened my original opinion: that in terms of hot button issues like abortion, Kavanaugh will not be a difference-maker.

Chief Justice John Roberts is now the pivotal figure on the court. He is politically conservative, but he is not an ideologue, and he is certainly not a Trumpist. He is an institutionalist, and he happens to be in charge of one of the three branches of government. The last thing he wants is for the Supreme Court to be seen as being ‘under President Trump’, as the president’s press secretary so maladroitly tweeted recently. No, he will look for ways to preserve the court’s independence, and it’s credibility.

‘Roberts will look for ways to preserve the court’s independence’

Right now, two of the nine justices (Kavanaugh and Thomas) are men who have been accused of sexual misconduct. They cannot be part of a 5-4 majority, all men, that can get away with setting back women’s rights. And this is a court where two of the justices–Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, were appointed by a president who got a minority of the popular vote and were confirmed by Senators representing states with less than half of the nation’s population. This is not a court that can overturn a right that is supported by 60 per cent of the population.

While political tempests rage, watch Roberts steer his ship down the centre of the channel.

Jamie Malanowski is a former senior editor of US Esquire