Dear Senators Kennedy and Cassidy,
We, a Louisiana grassroots organization, call on you to vocally oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the face of the accusations and documentations of Kavanaugh’s behavior, anyone who supports him to oversee the entire U.S. Constitution (including its application to crime and punishment) severely undermines any credibility in the justice system.
Although VOTE generally calls for second chances, and although we know that people are not the sum of one bad act, Kavanaugh does not fit into our analysis of an overly punitive system. Nor, we know for certain, would any “forgiveness” for Kavanaugh be equally extended as a policy towards all Americans. In other words, you both know that if Brett Kavanaugh were an everyday working class citizen in Louisiana, Dr. Ford’s extremely credible allegations would result in a criminal indictment on (at least) sexual battery. That charge carries a sentence of 25 to 99 years, with a minimum of 25 served without the possibility of parole. If Kavanaugh were convicted, and did live long enough to be released, he would be on electronic monitoring until death.
As U.S. Senators who speak so vocally about holding people accountable, and (particularly you, Senator Kennedy) about lengthy sentences that eliminate second chances, it is especially duplicitous for you to support Mr. Kavanaugh. Not only are you advocating for him to exist outside of prison, but you are actually vouching for him to be on the highest seat in the American justice system. This sends a clear message to all survivors of sexual assault: ‘You don’t matter.’
You may see our advocacy for second chances as a promotion of lawlessness, but that is furthest from the case. We believe in safe and sustainable communities, and we want people who have suffered trauma to receive support. We believe in restorative justice where accountability serves to improve individuals and society as a whole. You are not supporting Dr. Ford, and you are not protecting the residents of Louisiana who have experienced sexual assault. Your commitment to party and ideology over moral standards undermines both your party and your ideology.
Dr. Ford showed America an amazing profile in courage, putting herself and her family in front of a freight train that she anticipated. Her testimony should have made every Senator’s decision simple, as there are so many people more appropriate for the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, you made it clear that not only do you not believe the allegations, but, even worse given your position, you don’t believe in a process that takes serious allegations seriously.
A vote for Kavanaugh is giving a pass to every person who would sexually abuse others, including abuse that happens to your own friends and family. Both his past and present represent a lack of good judgment and respect for others, yet you would put him in the nation’s most esteemed position.
Your comments thus far are completely disturbing, but there is still time to change your mind and respect the will of the people.
The VOTE Staff
At VOTE, we believe there are alternatives for holding people and groups accountable that don’t involve mass incarceration, which is ineffective at best and lethal at worst. Transformative Justice (TJ) is one such alternative, and we have regular internal and external dialogues about what those worlds could look like. On October 26 at 2pm CST/3pm EST, anti-violence activists Kiyomi Fujikawa, Shannon Perez-Darby, and Mariame Kaba will be hosting an online discussion about TJ and building accountable communities. Register here.
Watch this video of what accountability means, and share your thoughts with us!