The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court is another wedge in an increasingly divided country.

Kavanaugh's conservative views were always going to make him a polarising nominee, especially relating to issues such as abortion, same- sex marriage and gun laws. But it is the events of the past two weeks that have done the real damage.

In the early stages of the nomination process, Kavanaugh's path to the Supreme Court appeared smooth. There were protests and Democrats did what they could to try to delay proceedings. But it looked assured Kavanaugh would ride the Republican majority in the Senate to his lifetime position on the nation's highest judicial body.

Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh turned the process on its head and drew up battle lines across the nation.

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What happened - or never happened - at a gathering of teenagers in the 1980s may never be known. But who you believed set you against the other side, whether it was on radio talk shows, social media sites or the streets of the capital, where 164 protesters were arrested yesterday.

Republicans asked why such claims had come out at such a late stage against a man who had been vetted by the FBI before and spent years in public service. Democrats asked why Republicans were so opposed to delaying the process to allow the FBI to investigate Ford's allegations and those of two other women who came forward.

Republicans accused Democrats of trying to ruin a good man's reputation. Democrats accused Republicans of riding roughshod over a woman's years of suffering for their own political purposes. President Donald Trump fuelled the flames by questioning Ford's claims and then mocking her in front of a crowd of supporters at a rally in Mississippi.

While supporters of Ford marched carrying signs that read "I Believe" and "Believe Women", women backing Kavanaugh wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words "I Stand With Brett".

Newspapers like the Washington Post ran stories on Ford's years of suffering. Fox News ran a family-friendly interview of Kavanaugh and his wife.

Americans tuned in for their Senate Judicial Committee testimonies like it was the Super Bowl. The judge versus the university professor. These weren't two lightweights. Ford told tearfully how she feared Kavanaugh would rape her. An angry Kavanaugh shed tears, too, and suggested it could all be down to Democrats taking "revenge on behalf of the Clintons". One woman's truth became another man's conspiracy.

On Friday, Kavanaugh said in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that he "might have been too emotional" during his testimony. He added: "Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: Hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good."

His seat on the Supreme Court is now safe. But the scars from his nomination process are likely to be felt for a long time to come.

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