Truth or Politics

Truth or Politics September 29, 2018

Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2356) [1]

Christine Blasey Ford says that Supreme Court nominee Brett Michael Kavanaugh tried to do that to her in the early 1980s. She’s not saying he was politically incorrect. She’s not saying he was inappropriate. She’s not saying he was being a misogynist. She’s saying that he attempted to victimize her with one of the most heinous criminal acts that human beings commit. In fact, as defined by the Catechism, her accusation amounts to a completion of the act, because the conduct she describes would surely violate her sexual intimacy even if it didn’t amount to a rape in the criminal law.

It may seem that I’m stating the obvious, but it really seems that I am not, because the seriousness of the accusation has somehow been submerged into politics. Who would have thought that anyone’s view of the accusation would turn on whether one was a Democrat or a Republican? But that seems to be exactly what has happened.

Now how likely is it that almost all Democrats would view such evidence as there is one way, and almost all Republicans would view it another way? How is it possible that one’s view of foreign policy or the social safety net would honestly affect how one perceives the guilt or innocence of Brett Kavanaugh in this matter? Is politics a demon that has so successfully possessed our society that we really can’t make an honest assessment of evidence in a case this serious? Future historians will rightly adjudge our society insane if we cannot.

Whether one supports or opposes Kavanaugh’s apparent judicial philosophy is, or ought to be, irrelevant. If he did this thing, he doesn’t belong on the Supreme Court. In fact, if he did this thing, he doesn’t belong on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals where he is now. And the only way we have to decide whether he did it or not is to gather all of the evidence available.

For a moment it looked as though this minimal requirement wouldn’t be met at all. But this man cannot be seated on the Supreme Court if there is a realistic possibility that he attempted to rape Christine Ford. The Supreme Court, as an institution, cannot withstand such an assault on its credibility. Moreover, if we are willing to brazenly let this accusation pass without doing a proper and thorough investigation, we cannot withstand such an assault on our own credibility, regardless of how good a justice we think he might be.

Thus, Kavanaugh should not be confirmed without such an investigation. As it stands now, the floor vote on his confirmation will be delayed a week so that the FBI can do a supplementary investigation on this issue and on the accusations by Kavanaugh’s two other accusers. Apparently, they’re not to investigate anything else, even if it jumps out at them. And they only get the week, whether that turns out to be enough time or not.

Artificial restrictions like that are not indications of seriousness. But this is an extremely serious matter. Politics should not blind us to what is at stake.

As Catholics, no matter what side of the political divide we most identify with, we should have a decided partiality for the truth. And finding the truth in this matter should take precedence over every other consideration. It seems undeniable, therefore, that we should support every effort that is humanly possible to find it.


The icon of St. Joseph the Worker is by Daniel Nichols.

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