22 Aug 2022


Kavanaugh's Ethics Woes Could Speed Up His Impeachment

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Ethics is a philosophy branch that deals with principles concerning human conduct in regards to the suitability of certain actions, as well as the badness or goodness of the action’s motives and ends (Singer, 2018). In the society, there exist written or unwritten ethical codes that govern the actions of every individual. The ethical codes are significant in protecting the populace from harm by some individuals. The ethical codes can be taken to be the limit that ascertains that personal safety is observed. If an individual goes against the ‘limiting’ law, then legal actions can be taken against the person. Some of the actions such as corruption, medical malpractice, and sexual assault among others are all covered under social, professional, and political ethics. Every nation has outlined several regulations that ensure that social, political, and professional ethics are upheld (Singer, 2018). In the judicial system, there also exists judicial ethics that govern the actions of judges. The judicial ethics are implemented through application of the outlined Judicial Codes of Ethics. Therefore, this paper discusses ethics as portrayed in the testimonies of Judge Kavanaugh’s and Dr Ford’s testimonies they offered in judge Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations before the Senate Judicial Committee. 

Background information 

The United States elections and nominations have been contentious issues. However, over the last few years, the controversies have intensified. Recently, the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh on July 2018 for Supreme Court nominee by President Donald Trump attracted allegations against the judge which involves sexual assault towards women (Brown, 2018). Judge Kavanaugh’s accusations attracted the attention of many people and created uproar across major cities. People protested against the judge being appointed to be a Justice in the Supreme Court. The reason behind the protests is the allegations by Dr Christine Blasey Ford who alleges that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were partying. The alleged sexual assault happened in the senior year in high school in suburban Maryland in the year 1982 (Brown, 2018). 

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Dr Ford’s Testimony takeaways 

Before testifying, Dr Ford had communicated the sexual assault via a confidential letter to a Senator Democratic lawmaker (Brown, 2018). She decided to tell her story in person when the media started highlighting her ordeal without her consent. Her testimony was aimed at proving that Judge was ethically unfit to be a Justice of the Supreme Court. Dr Ford explained how Judge Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge collaborated to assault her sexually. Specifically, she recalled how the then 17-year old Kavanaugh muffled her screams for help while groping her as well as fumbling to undress her forcibly. At the same time, she recalls the uproarious laughter of the duo which remains glued in her memory (Greenberg et al., 2018). Lastly, even when some individuals remained doubtful of the assailants, Dr Ford clearly remembers that the assailant is Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge was his accomplice. 

Kavanaugh’s testimony takeaways 

As expected, Judge Brett Kavanaugh denies all the allegations by Dr Ford in a tone that varied from being fiery, insolent, as well as emotional. His first defence relied heavily on a statement from three other attendees of the said party, that is, his friend Mark Judge, Dr Ford’s friend Leland Keyser, and Patrick Smyth, who says they did not witness such an occurrence. Secondly, he denies attending such a party Dr Ford described leave alone being in an enclosed room with Ford and his friend Mark Judge. To support his claim of never attending such a gathering, Judge Kavanaugh cites dates from his 1982 summer calendar which contained notes of his endeavours as well as schedule and the party happens to be completely absent (Greenberg et al., 2018). Other than Dr Ford’s allegations, Judge Kavanaugh also denies sexual assault allegations levelled against him by his Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, as well as another accuser, Julie Swetnich (CNN, 2018). He claims the sexual assault allegations are politically orchestrated with an apparent fueling from built-up anger on President Trump’s triumph in the 2016 elections. Additionally, he says that the allegations were motivated by revenge on behalf of the Clintons (Democrats) (CNN, 2018s). Another significant take away from his testimony is that he declined to involve an FBI investigation which the Democratic lawmakers were advocating for so that the charges would be thoroughly examined. 

The ethical questions 

The first ethical question arising from Judge Kavanaugh’s allegations is whether he was of legal drinking age. His love for drinking is evident in his testimony where he claims he drank beer with his friends but not to the extent of blacking out and sexually assaulting someone (Greenberg et al., 2018). According to Kavanaugh, beer drinking was legal for seniors when he was in high school in Maryland an in D.C where the age limit was eighteen years. On the contrary, his claim would be false when schooling as a senior in Maryland and in particular the summer of 1982 around the period of the alleged assault. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, the age limit for drinking in Maryland was changed from eighteen to twenty-one on the 1 st of July, 1982 (Greenberg et al., 2018). Thus, Kavanaugh would not be allowed to drink in Maryland until February 1986 since he was born in February 1965. Moreover, he would have legally been able to drink as of February 1983 in Washington, D.C where the age limit was eighteen years (Greenberg et al., 2018). 

The second ethical question is whether Judge Kavanaugh should answer for the actions he took when he was a teenager. Assuming the alleged assault was to be investigated, the query was if it was legitimate to incriminate Judge Kavanaugh of actions he involved himself with three decades ago when he was a teenager. While some individuals see such an act of incriminating him over something that occurred a long time ago is unfair, others believe that at least an investigation should be conducted more so since Judge Kavanaugh is a nominee to the US Supreme Court topmost job whose role is influential and for a lifetime. The latter group believes that Judge Kavanaugh may not be able to uphold professional ethics if appointed. 

Another ethical question involved is whether Judge Kavanaugh will be able to remain impartial in his rulings as a Justice at the Supreme Court. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh claimed he is innocent of all the allegations levelled against him and attributed the allegations as a political scheme by the opposition politically fueled to get back at the administration. Moreover, Judge Kavanaugh said that the sexual assault allegations were inspired by revenge on behalf of the Clintons (Democrats) for losing the 2016 elections (CNN, 2018). Additionally, Judge Kavanaugh asserted that the allegations against him were gross and synchronized personality assassination aimed at dissuading high-quality and proficient individuals like him from serving the nation. According to the American Bar Association’s Canon 3 section 1 of the judicial codes of ethics, judges are required to maintain neutrality and should not indicate any form of prejudice, bias, or favours (ABA, 2018). On the other hand, Canon 3 section 2 states that judges are supposed to remain non-partisan in whatever the circumstances so that they can maintain and enhance public confidence (ABA, 2018). The judges are required to refrain from terming issues as politically motivated or orchestrated. Even in the case where they may have political opinions, the codes dictate that they don’t express them publically since revealing them to the general public raises concerns whether the judicial fraternity actions are objective and apolitical (ABA, 2018). With strong partisan-oriented comments made by Judge Kavanaugh about Democrats during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, there are ethical concerns as to whether he will remain impartial on his ruling more so when the battle is between the Republicans and Democrats. 

Moreover, another ethical concern involves the authenticity of Dr Ford’s testimony. The law grants a member of the public the right to raise any concerns they may have concerning any federal nominations or appointments. Dr Ford exercised this right by publicly testifying against Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her. Her testimony raised eyebrows regarding its authenticity. One of the concerns is that Dr Ford does not provide a particular date of the party and sexual assault. She estimated the date of the party with reference to the date she secured her driving license at the age of 16 years (Greenberg et al., 2018). Additionally, the date conflicts her therapist’s notes as well as the letter she sent to the Washington Post. According to the therapist’s notes, she was assaulted in her late teens while the letter to the Washington Post indicates that she was assaulted at the age of fifteen. Additionally, two persons, Dr Ford’s high school friend Leland Keyser and another party attendee Patrick Smyth deny having attended the party stated by Dr Ford. Furthermore, despite having earlier cited that she had delayed her testimony because she had anxiety about flying, later when questioned she agreed of having flown to D.C., as well as Hawaii and South Pacific, for the testimony and vacations respectively. Therefore, it seems that Dr Ford information is quite contradicting and unsubstantial. 

The outcome 

Judge Kavanaugh won with the slightest margin in history and became a Justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate vote difference was two votes with those supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination being fifty while those opposing the nomination being forty-eight (Abramson, 2018). This indicates how the judge’s ethics were on the weighing scale with the last-minute support from Senators Susan Collins (Republican) and Joe Manchin (Democrat) who represents Maine and West Virginia respectively. Despite having won the Senate vote, Justice Kavanaugh faces multiple ethics complaints. The complaints filed in the Washington D.C. circuit court are to be decided by Washington D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland (Abramson, 2018). The allegations question his ethics and capability to be a Justice of the nation’s highest court. They include ethics complaints concerning sexual assault allegations, his excessive drinking habits in high school and college, as well as his partisan remarks during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 


The allegations against Judge Kavanaugh span judicial ethics with more emphasis on sexual assault. There is increased recognition of the society that sexual harassment should not be tolerated in all aspects of life. Particularly, the same should be reflected in the standards of conducts by judicial officers. That is the reason why Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh has been taking very seriously. Dr Ford’s testimony points out that the judge sexually assaulted him while partying at a house in Maryland some three decades ago. In his defence, Judge Kavanaugh cites that the allegations are aimed at smearing his name and is politically orchestrated by those in opposition. Both testimonies raise several ethical concerns about their ethics. For instance, in Judge Kavanaugh’s case, the ethics queries involves whether he was of legal drinking age when the purported assault happened in 1982. The second ethical question is whether he should answer for actions he did when he was a teenager. The last ethics concern s is whether Judge Kavanaugh will exercise impartiality in his rulings as a Justice at the Supreme Court after publicly accused the Democrats and indicating that he was more of a conservative than a liberal. On the other hand, Dr Ford’s testimony raises some ethics issues concerning its authenticity. The information she offers in each account differs, for instance, the therapist’s notes versus what she sends to the Washington Post. Additionally, the two witnesses, her high school friend Leland Keyser and Patrick Smyth, whom she mentions as being part of the attendees deny knowing such an occurrence. 


Abramson, A. (2018). http://time.com. Retrieved from http://time.com/5417538/bett-kavanaugh-confirmed-senate-supreme-court/ 

American Bar Association (ABA). (2018). Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_code_of_judicial_conduct/ 

Brown, E. (2018). California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/california-professor-writer-of-confidential-brett-kavanaugh-letter-speaks-out-about-her-allegation-of-sexual-assault/2018/09/16/46982194-b846-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html?utm_term=.5a3a0f444c1b 

CNN. (2018). Kavanaugh questioned about sex assault allegations (Entire hearing) [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQfPAotpoOo 

Greenberg, B., Tobias, M., Kruzel, J., & Jacobson, L. (2018). Your Kavanaugh-Ford hearing questions answered. Retrieved from https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/sep/27/your-kavanaugh-ford-hearing-questions-answered/ 

Singer, P. (2018). ethics | Origins, History, Theories, & Applications. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/ethics-philosophy 

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