Judicial MeltdownAs of July, there has been a vacant spot in the Supreme Court, due to the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. This Justice was nominated by Ronald Reagan back in the decade of 80’s, since his retirement it was up to the President to exercise one of his presidential duties which is nominating a Supreme Court Justice. President Trump nominated the current and second most conservative judge of United states Cincinatti circuit, judge Brett Kavanaugh as a potential replacement for Justice Kenedy. As of late much controversy surrounds Mr. Kavanaugh because shortly after his nomination, a former class-mate stepped forward to claim that she was sexually assaulted by him in a high school party. Most notably Dr. Christine Blasey Ford appeared before court to provide her testimony. As he faced these serious allegations, he subsequently attempts to clear his name. Kavanaugh through his use of diction and literary devices such as appeals to emotion, logic, and ethics in both his nomination speech and in his opening statement not only to structure his response to these allegations but also to build his credibility with audience.
In July as of his nomination Brett Kavanaugh delivered the speech “An Independent Judiciary Is the Crown Jewel of Our Constitutional Republic” to The United States Court of Appeals upon his nomination to become a Supreme Court Justice. In this speech he praises the president for consulting wisely and seeking background information before announcing his nominee, it is quite evident by how he refers to the president that he is very thankful. He continues, Kavanaugh gives a brief run-down of his parents in order to appeal to minorities. He attempts to connect to them by saying, “my mom taught largely in African American schools,” and by saying “her example taught me equality for all Americans,” He recalls these memories in order to prove that he will be a judge that will not focus on race and treat every person equally no matter ethnicity. Race inequality has been a huge topic in recent times so it is important that he recognizes the value of equality because although it has not been this ideally that is how justice should be served. Also, he describes the creed from his Jesuit school, “[men for others],” and says it is the, “creed I live by.” By these key phrases he establishes himself as an honest man, a man of God, and also a family man. Through his diction and connotations, you can perceive he is giving this speech in a passive/calm/gentle tone unlike his latter speech. By reciting this touching speech, it makes him seem as an ideal man fit for the job.
By September 27th Brett Kavanaugh gives his Opening Statement opening statement to Senate Judiciary Committee as he vehemently denies sexual assault allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Upon delivering this statement it is evident that his tone has drastically shifted from polite and humble yet proud to an extent to an impertinent attitude, that at times he challenges senators that are questioning him. He begins the statement in a very peculiar fashion by stating, “I wrote this myself yesterday afternoon and evening. No one has seen this draft except for one of my former law clerks. This is my statement.” He says this in an attempt to build ethos in order to establish credibility with his audience because he is reciting nothing but his own words and thoughts. He continues his statement ultimately attempting to show the scenario of an innocent man who has become a victim of a modern day (fully fabricated) witch-hunt. He does this by saying, “Listen to the people I know, the people that I grew up with, listen to the witnesses… Mrs. Kaiser she does not know me, I was not at the party described by Dr. Ford, this has become a national disgrace.” In this excerpt he makes an appeal to logic, (logos) he conveys that a witness that was in the party does not remember him, how could this be possible? He must not have been there. As Kavanaugh continues to clear his name, he makes it seem as the allegations are part of a plan elaborated by desperate Democrats to prevent his confirmation. Later he recalls how democrats in the committee have called him “evil” not only that but the Democratic Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said “he will oppose him with everything he’s got,” they might have their reasons but Kavanaugh successfully spins the statements to makes himself seem the victim to the senate and public. Passionately he continues and some instances too passionately, this is highlighted by his choice of diction, words such as “complicit” and “evil” to describe the whole situation throughout the opening statement you can tell he feels indignant to the turn of events that had followed his nomination.
Kavanaugh proceeds and labels these event as “an orchestrated political hit, fueled by apparent pent up anger about president Trump and the 2016 election… revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” These are the reasons he gives for the rise of these fake allegations. He elaborates on a cause-and-effect that this “circus” will have many consequences in the future decades will dissuade competent and good other good people from serving our country. His appeals to logic described above also serve to highlight the democrats as unethical monsters that wil stop at nothing until his “good name” is tarnished (Kavanaugh “Opening Statement”). He continues to highlight the mistreatment he suffered due to the desperate democrats, his logic is that he was treated “badly” this will discourage other people. However, a big difference is that future competent nominees will most likely not have these allegations. He proceeds denial of committing sexual assault, Kavanaugh retells how throughout the years of him moving up the ranks, and FBI investigations none of these allegations surfaced not until his nomination to the supreme court he says this in order to prove they’re out to get him. At times he seemed unable to maintain his composure a bit impulsive which is not an attribute we would want a justice who holds such power to have.
While I feel the need to highlight that the historic hearing of Thomas/Hill could be seen as a juxtaposition to the recent Kavanaugh/Ford case. Due to many similarities between both cases which ultimately the nominee still became appointed. Anita Hill claimed that Thomas harassed her at the work place, she took a polygraph test and it supported her claim (Amy E., and Jamie L. Allen. “Tracing the Legacy of Anita Hill). Yet Thomas assured, he was being persecuted by white liberals to prevent a black conservative judge entering the supreme court. While Dr. Ford’s testimony believed many so did Kavanaugh’s it was hard to tell who was lying. In both cases it was claimed that they could not tell the truth. Yet the Hill/Thomas hearings had an everlasting effect on public opinion which propelled sexual harassment cases to a higher position in the list of public priorities (Amy E., and Jamie L. Allen. “Tracing the Legacy of Anita Hill). However, in my opinion the Ford Kavanaugh did not continued this trend because although her claims were acknowledged they could be seen as pointless because he still became a Justice of the Supreme Court. The Kavanaugh/Ford case would have most likely lasting effects of the Hill/Thomas hearings.
As of October 8, 2018, it was finally decided by the senate with 50 ayes and 48 nays; the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh of Maryland to be a Justice of the Supreme Court was confirmed. The same day he was sworn in to be 114th Justice, this solidifies conservative control of the highest court of the land for a generation. It is evident that due to his speeches “An Independent Judiciary Is the Crown Jewel of Our Constitutional Republic” and his opening statement to the senate his use of rhetorical devices were successful in building his credibility enough to become a Supreme Court Justice (or possibly due to partisanship in senate). Ultimately, I hope the best although seemingly temperamental I remain skeptical to an extent Kavanaugh seems qualified enough for the job.
Pugh, Brandie, and Patricia Becker. “Exploring Definitions and Prevalence of Verbal Sexual Coercion and Its Relationship to Consent to Unwanted Sex: Implications for Affirmative Consent Standards on College Campuses.” Behavioral Sciences (2076-328X), vol. 8, no. 8, Aug. 2018, pp. 1–28. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3390/bs8080069
“Appointment of Supreme Court Justices.” Congressional Digest, vol. 95, no. 5, May 2016, pp. 2–32. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=114700995&site=ehost-live
Black, Amy E., and Jamie L. Allen. “Tracing the Legacy of Anita Hill: The Thomas/Hill Hearings and Media Coverage of Sexual Harassment.” Gender Issues, vol. 19, no. 1, Winter 2001. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=5068387&site=ehost-live.
Kavanaugh, Brett M. “Brett Kavanaugh’s Opening Statement: Full Transcript.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/us/politics/read-brett-kavanaughs-complete-opening-statement.html.
KAVANAUGH, BRETT. “An Independent Judiciary Is the Crown Jewel of Our Constitutional Republic.” Vital Speeches of the Day, vol. 84, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 243–244. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=131528371&site=ehost-live.