The situation could change — has, in fact, been changing — with stunning rapidity. We don’t know what new allegations or evidence might or might not come forward.
If I had to make a prediction right now, though, I would guess that the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court is dead or, at best, on life support.
I say this as someone who has supported Judge Kavanaugh, who has been disgusted by the Democratic circus at the hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and who believes that the Court would be greatly improved by his replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy there.
But we’re living in the #MeToo moment. Moreover, 24/7 new cycles are a reality today that they were not during the days of Anita Hill’s allegations against then-nominee Clarence Thomas. And, most importantly, this isn’t a criminal trial. If it were, the burden of proof would rest upon Judge Kavanaugh’s accuser, while he would enjoy, at least initially, the presumption of innocence.
In this case, though, it’s a matter of public perceptions, senatorial perceptions, and public pressure upon senators. And the vote, like the Senate itself, was already close. Now, if even one or two Republican senators abandon Judge Kavanaugh, there will likely be no great public pressure on any Democratic senator to step forward on his behalf.
The accusation against Judge Kavanaugh is disturbing. If it’s true, it’s serious. It certainly would have been serious at the time.
Speaking personally, I take it seriously. After all, I’m a believing Latter-day Saint, so I’m scarcely the kind of person who’s inclined to minimize underage drinking, let alone drunkenness, to say nothing of forceful attempts on the chastity of a young woman. Moreover, I began to be a serious Latter-day Saint (in a marginally Mormon, part-member family) in high school, and I never drank, never took drugs — even though it was sixties California, and many of my best friends did — and never attended the kinds of parties that the accuser describes. I have no sympathy for them whatever.
But the delay in bringing the accusation until so very late is also disturbing.
Brett Kavanaugh and the other man mentioned in the accusation vehemently deny the charge. But, of course, that’s unsurprising. They would, wouldn’t they?
The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is evidently a committed and rather fiercely partisan Bernie Sanders progressive. But that, of course, doesn’t prove her allegations false.
As of now, though, there are no other such accusations against Judge Kavanaugh — which seems significant, since men guilty of these offenses are typically serial offenders. And he’s now been vetted fully six times by the FBI for various federal positions, without so much as a whiff of this kind of behavior arising.
Further: I’ve been unable to confirm it, but I heard one commentator describe Professor Ford’s charge against Brett Kavanaugh as having come to the surface out of “repressed memories” while working with a therapist. If so, this is troubling to me. I’m extremely skeptical of “repressed memories.”
Serious question: Let’s assume that the accuser’s claim is true: Should even grossly inappropriate one-time behavior at a drunken high school party more than thirty years ago — where both the offender and the alleged victim were hormone-driven teenagers who may both have been impaired in their judgment by excessive alcohol consumption — forever hang over a person whose behavior, by almost all accounts (and by all non-partisan accounts), has been exemplary since then?
On the other hand, if Judge Kavanaugh is lying, might that not be enough, right there, to disqualify him from service on the Supreme Court and, indeed, in the federal judiciary?
It’s an ugly situation. I hate it. And no matter what happens or what the truth is, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now publicly tainted for life. Even Justice Brett Kavanaugh won’t be able to transcend this completely; Justice Thomas hasn’t.
Here, incidentally, are three articles on the subject that I’ve found valuable. The first was published before Professor Ford had come forward publicly:
Pray for the United States of America. We’re in a very distasteful time.