OPINION: Justice is not politics. I have a caveat for Kavanaugh

Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Christy Bowe | Tribune News Service)

Justice is blind. At least, that’s what we’ve been told.

That’s what the quotes say and that’s what the Lady Justice statue outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. embodies.

Yet to watch the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and see the wild things that have happened, one would think justice is all about the whims of the people.

From Senator Cory Booker’s “I Am Spartacus” moment to diplomat Hillary Clinton’s mischaracterization of many of the things Kavanaugh said, the hearings were a roller coaster from start to finish.

I think most people now believe this is the new normal. Between President Donald Trump’s antagonism, people’s reactions to said antagonism, the new ways that media works and the fast-paced news cycle, we’re constantly sifting through emotional reactions and polarized politics. Why wouldn’t the same be true for a Supreme Court justice nominee’s confirmation hearing?

However, this shows that we as a country are missing something crucial when it comes to our government, and especially our justice system.

Kavanaugh — or any Supreme Court nominee or sitting justice, for that matter — is not working in politics. In fact, the word “politics” shouldn’t show up in the same sentence as “Supreme Court justice,” because that’s not where they work.

Supreme Court justices work under, for, through and by the law. They work, in essence, for Lady Justice: the perfect embodiment of U.S. law.

The question for Kavanaugh should not be about his opinions on abortion, religion or any other hot-button issue. His politics don’t matter. What is his judgement? Not his legislation, but his litigation.

Of course, it’s frustrating. Congress sure isn’t doing much; the legislative branch as a whole is about as effective as a college student on a Saturday morning.

But the fact that the legislative branch isn’t performing up to snuff doesn’t mean that the judicial branch needs to take its place. On the contrary: the judicial branch should be stronger than ever in its litigation and work method, holding the other two branches accountable for their actions (or lack thereof).

So, if there’s anything to say for Kavanaugh, it’s this one, small caveat.

Pay attention to his work as a lawyer, not his politics. Make note of his rulings, not his voting (which, by the way, he doesn’t do). And never forget that judges are supposed to serve Lady Justice, not anything or anyone else.

Olivia Rogers is a community editor for the Collegian and a junior in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

I’m Olivia Rogers. I graduated with dual degrees in philosophy and political science in May 2020. After I graduated, I went on to attend law school at Notre Dame. While at the Collegian, I served as the community editor for several semesters, working to share the opinions of the K-State student body. I write because: “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle