Comparing Justice Kavanaugh’s Special Hearing Nomination Test ...

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Abstract

During a special hearing regarding accusations of sexual assault, then U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh was questioned by four female and six male members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from the Democratic Party leading up to his eventual confirmation. Narrowly transcribed, unabridged transcriptions were produced here in the Jeffersonian tradition. During sessions led by women, Kavanaugh was more likely to interrupt, raise his voice, turn to address the audience, return questions to the Senators, and avert gaze. When being questioned by men, he had more instances of a noticeably softer voice and a higher rate of more deferential speech overlap that consisted of three or fewer words. His patterns of disorderly behavior are understood to be exhibiting power maintained through ingrained, hegemonic ideology that undermines female authority. Additionally, the male Republican chairperson never intervened when women were questioning Kavanaugh, and only male Senators requested intervention from the chairperson even though women were interrupted at a higher rate. For sessions that had a maximum length of only five minutes, most of Kavanaugh’s responses were found to fail to adhere to the Gricean maxim of relevance, with both women’s and men’s questions receiving irrelevant responses most of the time.