Eve Gross | Torrey Pines High School Senior
On Oct. 6, the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime position as Supreme Court justice — the end of a months-long process beginning with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement this past June, followed by Kavanaugh’s nomination and then the coming to light of three different accusations of sexual assault and harassment against the judge. As the topic is discussed in high school history classes and present on social media, students are more aware of Kavanaugh than they have been of past Supreme Court nominees.
“I know that the Government classes were watching the hearings and talking about [Kavanaugh’s] politics,” said Serguienko, of Torrey Pines High School. “People at school seem to care about this, whichever way they lean.”
Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, detailing her alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh in the 1980s. While many rallied behind Blasey Ford by protesting, walking out, posting on social media, and speaking, members of the Republican establishment remained grounded in their belief that Kavanaugh was innocent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the accusations were part of a “shameful smear campaign,” while President Donald Trump said that it’s “a very scary time for young men in America.” Trump’s sentiments were felt by others, who took to Twitter using #HimToo to defend the innocence of the accused. Students have different opinions of the story and its significance.
“There’s not really any doubt in my mind that she’s telling the truth … and I think a lot of [young people] feel that way,” Serguineko said. “I am a guy, but I have never assaulted someone and never will. All these people … are coming out saying things like ‘What guy hasn’t done something like this?’ But, a lot of us haven’t, because it just isn’t something that you do as a human being, so the fact that [Kavanaugh] has probably [sexually assaulted someone], even if he was in high school, is alarming.”
But, Luu, also of Torrey Pines, said he would be convinced of Kavanaugh’s guilt if there were more evidence of or witnesses to the incident that Blasey Ford described, a point also made by many Republicans in support of the confirmation, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said she believed that the assault took place but that Kavanaugh was not involved. Luu added that Kavanaugh’s experience in the justice system should be proof enough of his qualification.
It’s Kavanaugh’s history on the court, though, that makes Lam, a Canyon Crest Academy student, concerned for the future. She said that based on what she saw of him in her Government class, he seems “regressive.”
“Even before he was accused of those things, we knew that he would help to chip away at abortion rights,” Lam said. “Luckily we live in California, but it’s definitely scary to think that this man will be instrumental in taking away women’s rights to their own bodies. I don’t know how long it will take to get those back.”