The recent news that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had been accussed of sexual assault was followed by announcement that University Professor Christine Blasey Ford was willing to testify in court against the Senator.
The following piece from the Guardian’s Jill Filipovic is an important analysis of what this story means for the administration, and the steps they should take to to ‘stop the administration from ruining what makes our democracy so admirable: fair, predictable and transparent processes’.
what’s next for Brett Kavanaugh? The US supreme courtnominee’s path to the bench has been stalled by accusations that he tried to rape a girl when they were both in high school; that girl, now a professor in her 50s, initially tried to tell her story anonymously, but put her name to the charges when it became clear she was going to be outed anyway. Senate Republicans faced a quandary on Monday: reopen the Kavanaugh hearings and allow the woman to testify, potentially torpedoing his nomination and convincing more moderate Republicans to vote against him; pull his nomination entirely and start over with someone new, running the risk that they lose the Senate to Democrats in the coming months and see any far-right nomination rendered impossible; or push Kavanaugh’s nomination forward and inevitably see significant blowback at the polls in November.
The Republican party doesn’t have a lot of good options. But they did the right thing and announced on Monday that they will reopen the hearings so that Kavanaugh and his accuser can testify before the judiciary committee next Monday.
Will sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh derail his confirmation?
Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who wrote the initial letter to her congresswoman and California senator Dianne Feinstein alleging Kavanaugh assaulted her when she was a teenager, says she is willing to testify about her experience. Kavanaugh has offered a full denial, saying: “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone.”
It is in the best interests of this process to fully air the accusations, with both Ford and Kavanaugh under oath. He is, after all, vying for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, and so far, his confirmation process has been remarkably opaque and disturbingly superficial. Unlike supreme court justice Elena Kagan, who worked for the Clinton administration and released all of her White House communications during her confirmation process, Kavanaugh has not allowed a full look into his time working in the Bush White House. He was appointed by a president who may yet be indicted himself and who continues to preside over the country under a cloud of suspicion, deception and criminality. And now, he stands accused of attempted rape.
The Trump administration has already undermined American confidence in so many of our institutions, and they seem to be gunning for democracy itself. The Kavanaugh hearings are a crucial moment for members of both parties to put a stop to this administration’s habit of running roughshod over the very thing that makes our democracy admirable and functional (if occasionally maddening): fair, predictable and transparent processes.
No one who has committed an act of violence against women should be in a position to make decisions about women’s lives – even if they were a reckless teenager when they attacked a woman; even if they’re very sorry; even if they are good people in myriad other ways. The promise of rehabilitation is always on the table, and people who do terrible things must always have the option of paying for their crimes, atoning fully and reintegrating into society.
It’s not asking too much to say that there should be a hard rule for judges: no rapists (or attempted rapists) allowed
But Brett Kavanaugh isn’t a criminal who has done his time and simply wants to be able to support himself. He’s trying to sit on the highest court in the land. And it’s not asking too much to say that there should be a hard rule for judges: no rapists (or attempted rapists) allowed.
As it stands, we of course don’t know if Kavanaugh is guilty of what Ford says he did. Testimony from both of them will not bring about perfect clarity either. And if this were a criminal case, Kavanaugh would almost certainly walk away being declared not guilty – if charges were brought at all. There simply isn’t much in the way of evidence beyond Ford’s word.
But this isn’t a criminal case, and what’s at stake isn’t the deprivation of Kavanaugh’s life or liberty, but the privilege to hold one of the most important positions in the nation, for which good character and fair treatment of others is necessary. Kavanaugh has trotted out a slew of people attesting to his good character, making it clear that he and his Republican supporters believe who he is as a person is directly relevant to his fitness as a supreme court justice. Ford’s story, if true, would make him flat-out unfit to serve.
Which is why it must be heard, and why senators who believe she’s credible will then have an obligation to vote against Kavanaugh. This is more akin to a very important job interview than a criminal case. Ford’s testimony does not have to prove Kavanaugh guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; it just has to be credible and convincing enough to sway lawmakers.
That is precisely what terrifies Republicans. But they have a duty to do this the right way – their office demands it, voters demand it, and the American democratic process requires it.