Blinking on Brett Kavanaugh’s Impeachment

As Democrats urge the impeachment of Justice Kavanaugh and President Trump, they should keep in mind the political repercussions.


Kate Reynolds

Ayanava Ganguly ’21 believes that Kavanaugh’s impeachment would be pointless and politically unwise, saying that “it would be wiser for Democrats to wait” to impeach until after they win a majority in Congress.

Everyone has an opinion about Brett Kavanaugh. Ever since Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her as a teenager, Kavanaugh’s name has become synonymous with the polarization of American politics. His is the story of how one man, his reputation tarnished by claims of misconduct, could still be confirmed to the highest court in the United States by a margin of two votes. Ford upended his confirmation, and her own life in the process, as her account became the subject of relentless questioning. Articles, think pieces, tweets, and petitions about Brett Kavanaugh were everywhere. There was nowhere you could turn without grappling with his innocence or her honesty.

Now, one year since his divisive approval by the Senate, Brett Kavanaugh’s youth has come back to haunt him and America. On September 14th, 2019, The New York Times published a summary of the book “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh,” which tells the story of Deborah Ramirez. The book claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while attending Yale together. Ramirez originally came forward during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, but the book argues that her story was overlooked by Kavanaugh’s FBI investigation, despite her lawyers providing witnesses to corroborate her account. These allegations prompted many Democrats to call for his impeachment. Top candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination urged an impeachment inquiry. On September 17th, 2019,Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley introduced a resolution for an impeachment inquiry into Kavanaugh. 

As the scandal began to look  like a repeat of his confirmation process and the frenzy over his possible impeachment reached its greatest heights, the credibility of the assault allegations came crashing down. A few days after the publication of Ramirez’s story, The New York Times was forced to make a key revision: that Ramirez herself had declined to be interviewed, and many of her closest friends from college had denied hearing anything about her and Kavanaugh. It was revealed that the key witness who supported Ramirez’s story, Max Stier, worked for Bill Clinton’s legal team while Kavanaugh was working for the lawyers seeking to impeach Clinton. After this revelation, many Republican pundits weaponized this possible conflict of interest to cast doubt on Stier’s credibility. Only a few days after the bombshell allegations had been published, it was widely agreed that the claims were not sufficiently substantiated.

However, the truthfulness of sexual misconduct claims is not what truly matters in the fight over Kavanaugh’s possible impeachment. Rather, Democrats wanted to impeach him not because of the allegations, but because the original FBI investigation insufficiently investigated them. Impeachment is a bad move, especially for Democrats’ electoral prospects, no matter the reason behind it. The partisan divide over the impeachment of President Trump is massive: only 4% of Republicans support it, versus a whopping 73% of Democrats. According to The New York Times, 90% of Republicans supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation, while a Politico poll found that 78% of Democrats opposed it. Both these polls demonstrate how polarized American politics are, and how opinion over our elected officials are no longer defined by their actions but by their political party. If Democrats were to go after Kavanaugh, this polarization would only grow. President Trump has denounced calls of Kavanaugh’s impeachment as a witch hunt, and has characterized his own impeachment inquiry as “Kavanaugh 2.0.”  Ayanava Ganguly ’21 spoke to the political drawbacks of impeachment. “Democrats should not impeach Kavanaugh because right now, Republicans have the political control necessary to just insert another one of their puppets into his position as a replacement. It would be wiser for Democrats to wait until they have the upper hand,” Ganguly said. Trump’s success at characterizing his political opponents as desperate for a scandal will create backlash against any Democratic supporters of impeachment, harming their electoral chances.

According to polls, over half of Americans, including myself, believe Deborah Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford. In spite of this, I do not believe that Kavanaugh should be impeached. The New York Times’ attempt to indict Kavanaugh only revealed how politics in America have become more about scoring political points than telling the truth. To reopen an investigation into Kavanaugh would be to restart a vicious battle that would only end in the same scars and wounds that it did a year ago. 

Member of the esteemed Bronx Science Debate Team Benjamin Oestericher ’20 agrees, saying, “The fundamental problem with judicial impeachments, like that of Kavanaugh, is that confirmation hearings exist for the very reason of litigating claims of misconduct and ensuring that we only sit on the bench those of moral character.” He continued, “When we re-litigate the same fights that previously occurred, we de-legitimize the very process of confirmation.” 

Benjamin Oestericher ’20 said, “When we re-litigate the same fights that previously occurred, we de-legitimize the very process of confirmation.”

At this turning point in America, when our politics are more polarized than ever before, a painful and drawn-out impeachment inquiry that would ultimately be voted down would be pointless.