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The GOP Won’t Vet Kavanaugh So The Public Must

President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, answers questions on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sept. 6, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, answers questions on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sept. 6, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
This article is more than 1 year old.

Editor's note: Today, Cognoscenti features two differing points of view about the allegations facing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. A view from the other side of the debate is here.


There are many reasons to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. First, he appears to have lied repeatedly under oath. Second, his GOP sponsors are hiding 90 percent of his record from the American people. Third, he was nominated by a president who is an unindicted co-conspirator in at least one federal crime, and whose legitimacy continues to erode as Robert Mueller indicts (and flips) his henchmen.

We should now add to that list the fact that Kavanaugh stands accused of sexual assault.

The allegation, which was kept under wraps during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing at the request of the alleged victim, Christine Blasey Ford, is specific and detailed.

She claims that Kavanaugh, as a 17-year-old, attacked her during a high school party, pinned her to a bed, attempted to remove her clothing, and held his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford was 15 at the time.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied that the episode took place.

On Monday, GOP senators — left with no other course of action — agreed to let Ford and Kavanaugh offer testimony under oath in a Monday hearing.

Nobody can know for sure what actually happened, other than the people who were involved — or allegedly involved.

And that’s precisely what GOP senators and White House officials are counting on: the fact that nothing short of incontrovertible evidence will prove Kavanaugh’s guilt. It’s the same logic Republicans employ to justify their support for a president who is a self-professed sexual predator.

Party leaders will attempt to turn Monday's hearing into a he said/she said stalemate, and the more mendacious of them will imply, like our demagogue-in-chief, that her allegations are part of some partisan conspiracy.

But here’s what you would need to buy that conspiracy theory:

*That a 51-year-old professor — in cahoots with democratic operatives, naturally — decided to concoct a false allegation of sexual assault against a blameless Supreme Court nominee

*That she shared this false claim with her husband early in their marriage, shared it again with a marriage counselor in 2012, and shared it yet again with a private therapist a year after that, and that she convinced both therapists to include mention of the bogus assault in their notes

*That she then managed to pass a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent

Regardless of your political orientation, please ask yourself: How likely is it that Ford would do all this? That she would enlist all these co-conspirators? That she would subject herself to the inevitable abuse unloaded on any woman who accuses a powerful man? What does she stand to gain from all this?

Now ask yourself one more question: What does Kavanaugh stand to gain by denying the claim? In a word: everything.

For this reason, the FBI should be allowed to conduct a thorough investigation of the claims, and the entirely of Kavanaugh's legal and financial records should be released and reviewed.

The standard for confirming a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land should be higher than: “Hey, he was never proved to have sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl!”

The ugly and obvious truth is that GOP leaders can no longer be trusted to vet this nominee, any more than they could vet their presidential nominee. This moral negligence has resulted in a president pathetically unqualified for the office he holds, a man with the mentality of a mob boss and the conscience of a shark.

Every day, Americans are seeing the awful things that happen when their leaders value the consolidation of wealth and power over all else.

There is no logical reason to rush this confirmation process — especially given that the GOP was just fine with leaving a Supreme Court seat vacant for 400 days when Obama was president. It is a nakedly partisan effort to shield Kavanaugh from scrutiny, to keep the American people from learning more about a man who could shape our laws for the next four decades.

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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