Lessons from US Supreme Court job vettings

Saturday November 10 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his US Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 5, 2018. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP


Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump for appointment as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States early July 2018.

For more than three months he was treated to rigorous investigations which covered his taxes, writings, childhood, business dealings, medical history, and love life for any potential red flags.

This is besides the prior background interviews by the FBI and finally subjected to intrusive questioning by the Senate judiciary committee televised live. Nothing was spared.

To the Kenyan youth, the confirmation process demonstrates that one’s past matters at a most critical moment.


We have heard of instances of schoolchildren in Kenya burn dormitories, classrooms, administration blocks, teachers’ houses, allegedly being involved in rape of fellow students and general destruction of property.


Many times these heinous crimes have been dismissed as juvenile acts despite their serious implications.

Those who cared to watch the proceedings of Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing will bear witness that an alleged sexual assault that took place 36 years ago when he was hardly 18 years old was brought up.

I can’t speak of Kavanaugh’s conscience but he certainly is a disturbed person, because in the history of the US Senate confirmations, he probably is the only one who had the lowest support among the Senators of any Justices of the Supreme Court.

Why is it a crucial lesson to take away? The distance from each human being in the world today has become seconds away due to the power of technology.


If any Kenyan youth were to take a mental flight and to think of ever seeking employment, they must appreciate that their past shall always be a subject.

My plea to the youth is to always be mindful about the future. You will never brush away your past actions by claiming that you were youthful, ignorant, misinformed or exempted from responsibility.

To Parliament, you have an incredibly important mandate of vetting nominees for appointments to Cabinet, diplomatic positions among other high-ranking positions.

The Judicial Service Commission is enjoined in the choice they make of magistrates and judges.

It is time that we see rigorous and serious process of vetting of those who occupy these positions that have a lasting impact on the lives of fellow citizens.


There should be no length or breath that should be spared, because ultimately when those chosen occupy positions of authority they do so for the benefit and on behalf of the Kenyan people.

However, their past personal conduct has a bearing on how they will discharge their responsibilities. To the panellists and nominating authorities, including the President, this is an awesome role.

Before a person is nominated for a position, a thorough background check must be an imperative to ensure not only professional suitability but the character and moral standing is evaluated.


Governors and members of the county assemblies in their nomination and confirmation roles, respectively, of county government executives and other officials must equally be diligent in ensuring that the integrity of appointees is above reproach.

This is because more often the philosophy and the ideals for functioning of institutions become compromised by virtue of whom we place in positions of decision making.

We, the citizens, must take instructive lesson from processes such as the recent one in the US as we champion our children’s future.

The writer is Advocate of the High Court; [email protected]