When I decided to write this article, I roamed in search for a suitable quote to set as its façade. Two quotes tugged at my shirt so much that I couldn’t decide which to denominate, so I’ll leave the choice to you.
“The only animal capable of giving man a fair fight is man. Actually, among ourselves, we fight unfairest of all, and the more we practice, the nastier we get.”
“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”
Now that you have made your choice of quotes, let us begin. I have tried to stay away from putting my Nigerian nose into the long-running drama playing out in the US capital. The last couple of weeks has seen a lot of political activity in the US, more than would be expected in the build-up to the recurrent judgement day termed “midterms”. At the centre of the drama lies the eccentric President Donald Trump; liked, loved, hated, and despised by a spectrum of Americans and foreign spectators, and Brett Kavanaugh; Trump’s second nominee for the US Supreme Court.
By now you are likely aware that Kavanaugh has been accused of attempting rape about thirty-six years ago while he was a high school teenager, exposing his genitals to another unwelcoming classmate, and being involved in parties where gang-rapes were executed. If you are unaware of these allegations, you might want to search for “Brett Kavanaugh”. Nonetheless, I have no interest in commenting on the trueness or falseness of the allegations. That’s for the US political circus to binge on, though for fear of hasty excoriation by any reader, I should point out that I believe in creating an environment when victims of sexual harassment are comfortable to speak out. However, I neither believe all accusers should be given the benefit of doubt nor believe the accused should receive unevidenced support. My stand is the legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. That’s enough said.
My [cowardly] rationale for abstaining from any archivable comment was based on the apparent divisions across political lines, where even a long-term friend of the accused was shamed for accompanying his friend to a congressional hearing. Expectedly, views on this show of support tend to be segmented by the main political camps—conservative vs liberal. Seeing that each camp seemed to vilify anyone who appeared whether actively or subtly to support the opposing view, I feared for a possible future where I might have to apply for a US visa or have anything to do with American officialdom. It would be pitiful to be denied over any seemingly “partisan” views I may have foolishly strewed across the internet. However, major news outlets have refused to grant non-Americans any reprieve from full-blown coverage of the Kavanaugh issue, thereby forcing this article. But more importantly, I think I have found a way to piss off both sides and remain technically non-partisan.
Talking about partisanship, let’s push the Kavanaugh allegations aside for now and look at an issue ignored by Americans who aggressively front American democracy as the gold standard for the world. Even if Kavanaugh were not accused by the three ladies, he already had opposition guaranteed from the liberal camp. Before him, Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 was vehemently opposed by the conservative camp. To what end are these oppositions?
The US Supreme Court, to the best of my knowledge, seems to be the only highest-level court across nations that is clearly divided along ideological lines. I would have loved to comment on the Nigerian Supreme Court, but I have no clue what the proclivities of its judges are, neither can I boldly stake a bet that five percent of educated Nigerians know the names of at least two of its justices. Returning to the US and its glaring divide, an analysis of the heated nomination battles highlights two camps fairly attempting to rig future cases in an unfair manner. For all intents and purposes, with the exception of maybe one swing vote, any divisive case that heads to the US Supreme Court has its judgement already predetermined. One only needs to count the number of judges flying the banner of the two opposing camps.
I remember a story told by a law student during my final undergraduate semester. He spoke of an unnamed Nigerian judge who sold cases to the highest bidder. For each case, he made up two legally congruent judgements and whichever side paid the most money got the judgement that suited it. The interesting thing was that any judgement he issued would pass the hurdle of any legal examination despite its immoral roots. Although, I could not verify whether this story was true, I saw some truth in it. The law is what you want and can prove it to be. If the law were straight and true, we likely would not need lawyers to argue on what the law says.
This malleable attribute of the law has been used as a weapon in the US judicial system, which is the root cause of the nomination fights. Liberals feel they need a “liberal judge” to ensure things like gay rights are maintained. Conversely, conservatives feel they need a “conservative judge” to strike down things like gay rights. No one bothers to ask why they need a partisan judge to win cases. If the law is the law, why do you need to rig who sits on the bench? Is this not akin to filing cases only before a judge whose view you already know? Americans need to ask themselves serious questions. Whether they choose to or not is their business but no one should come preach to me about the uprightness of the law when that person sees no evil in embedding partisanship into the outcomes of future judicial processes.
Image Credit: cartoonmovement.com