- Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court with 50 votes in the Senate, bringing to a close weeks of bitter partisan fights and protests over the nominee, who faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and doubts about his truthfulness under oath.
- A conservative who served in President George W. Bush’s White House, Kavanaugh will replace the court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, and will likely move the court to the right for decades to come.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court in a narrow 50-48 vote in the Senate on Saturday afternoon, bringing to a close the most divisive confirmation battle since the 1990s.
When Kavanaugh is sworn in, he will replace the court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement this summer after 30 years on the bench.
The former aide to President George W. Bush, who’s spent the last 12 years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, will move the court to right likely for decades to come and will become the second sitting justice — both appointed by Republicans — to face allegations of sexual misconduct.
After just under two months of protests and bitter partisan battling, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was assured on Friday when the two remaining undecided senators — Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican, and Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Republican — announced they would vote to send the judge to the nation’s highest court.
In a 45-minute address from the Senate floor on Friday, Collins lamented the divisiveness of the process, hoping that it had “finally hit rock bottom.” The senator both defended Kavanaugh’s judicial record and insisted that he should be presumed innocent of the misconduct charges until proven guilty.
Manchin announced he would follow Collins as she concluded her floor speech, all but assuring the judge’s confirmation.
In a symbol of the deep division over Kavanaugh’s nomination, Collins’ closest colleague and the only other remaining Republican centrist in the Senate, Lisa Murkowski, bucked her party and voted against the nominee on Friday.
The pro-choice Republican remained undecided until the day of the cloture vote, but concluded that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would undermine the public’s confidence in the court.
“I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s a good man,” she told reporters after the vote. “It just may be that in my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time … I believe we’re dealing with issues right now that are bigger than the nominee, and how we ensure fairness and how our legislative and judicial branch can continue to be respected.”
A bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle
Kavanaugh’s nomination was protested from the beginning by Democrats and liberal activists who oppose the judge’s conservative record on key issues including abortion, environmental protection, and presidential powers. But the fight escalated dramatically after three women came forward to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct last month.
In her riveting appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford delivered testimony that came close to derailing Kavanaugh’s confirmation. And Democrats have maintained that the FBI’s investigation into the misconduct claims against Kavanaugh was overly limited by the White House.
Democrats have also accused the nominee of lying under oath, pointing to instances in which the judge appeared to either mislead or make false statements to the Judiciary Committee about a range of issues, including his drinking habits and social life in high school and college and his work in the Bush White House.
Kavanaugh, who denied all of the misconduct allegations, called the attacks on his nomination a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” devised by Democrats in combative and emotional testimony that made some, including Republicans, question his temperament and political impartiality.
Concerns about public confidence
Experts across the political spectrum worry that Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court will further undermine public confidence in the institution, as the court loses its swing vote and the conservative majority includes two men credibly accused of sexual misconduct.
Alicia Bannon, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that the erosion of credibility in the judicial branch “dangerous and damaging” to democracy.
“It’s vitally important that the people who are on the losing side of a case still accept that they have to follow that decision,” Bannon said. “It’s been important that you haven’t had a dynamic where on every issue the court was ruling in a 5-4 decision in a conservative direction — you had a legitimate swing justice.”
Both Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan The justices recently voiced concern about the politicization of the high court and the implications for public trust in its authority.
“Part of the court’s strength and part of the court’s legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of this country now,” Kagan told an audience at Princeton University on Friday.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.