Fair-minded people across the country are doing their best to sort out and assess the Ford/Kavanaugh situation. We are all paying attention to media coverage and talking to our friends and families.
This is a difficult time, and the next few days are likely to throw much of the country into a turmoil from which, depending on the outcome, it could take several years – or generations – to recover.
It is a difficult time for Judge Kavanaugh, one of whose daughters is nearing the age Christine Blasey was when the alleged attack took place.
It is a difficult time for Dr. Ford, whose life has been disrupted for decades by an alleged sexual assault from a drunken teen. Now that she has gone public with the accusation and the names of the attackers, her life is being savaged by those who wish to disbelieve and discredit her.
It should be a difficult time for the U.S. Senate, which has already allowed one person of questionable character to ascend to the U.S. Supreme Court because its members chose not to believe other accusations of sexual harrassment.
Few would disagree that both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh must be treated fairly. But the people of this country must be treated fairly too. The people are entitled to a Supreme Court comprised of Justices whose character is above reproach.
At present, neither Dr. Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh has testified publicly under oath. But, based on what we have read, Dr. Ford appears to be a very credible person, and her story appears to be very credible. Judge Kavanaugh has made strong categorical denials of the allegations, and many people vouch for his character.
We think it is important that Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh each testify in public under oath. We also think it is important the Senate Judiciary Committee take testimony in public of additional witnesses. We do not think this should drag on endlessly, but we do not think it is urgent to close the investigation on this matter next week. The Committee should give this matter the serious attention it deserves, even to the point of subpoenaing witnesses if it comes to that.
Did Judge Kavanaugh engage in the conduct alleged? Are his categorical denials truthful? These are important questions.
What about the burden of proof? We think if people walk away with a reasonable doubt as to whether Judge Kavanaugh engaged in the alleged conduct, or if they walk away with a reasonable doubt as to whether the judge is now telling the truth, he should not be confirmed to be a Justice on the Supreme Court.
No one is entitled to be a Supreme Court Justice. It is a high honor to be nominated, but Judge Kavanaugh does not have the right to this life-long position.
The people of this country, on the other hand, are entitled to something. They have the right to have a Supreme Court composed of Justices whose character is above reproach. There are many potential candidates who fill this bill. We should not settle for less.
If a person whose character is subject to doubt is appointed to the Supreme Court, this will impugn the integrity of the Court – as long as the person is on the court, certainly, but possibly even longer, as the Court’s reputation will have been irrevocably besmirched.
It will impugn as well the integrity of the Court’s decisions.
Many people already think the Court has been politicized and that decisions are being made along political lines. We do not need to have two justices on the Court who have been accused of sexual misconduct, and significant percentages of the population believe they lack high character and integrity.
We are not going to prejudge the credibility of the parties. But if Dr. Ford’s testimony is credible, and if Judge Kavanaugh fails to rebut it beyond a reasonable doubt, he should not be confirmed as a Justice. We think the people of this country are entitled to at least that much.