Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s day before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the American people on Sept. 27 showed him unfit ethically and temperamentally to be a Supreme Court Justice.
Judge Kavanaugh now is being judged in the court of public opinion and, perhaps as early this week, will be assessed by the full United States Senate.
This is a grim moment in the history of the United States. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s statement about her recollection of being sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh while his friend Mark Judge was in the room when they were in high school riveted the county. Few if any people who heard Dr. Ford’s testimony are able to say she was not credible. She was poised, cordial and, most importantly, unshakable.
Other women have now come forward accusing Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. President Donald Trump, who nominated Judge Kavanaugh, has ordered a limited investigation of the matter and gave the FBI the names of only four witnesses to interview. After a public outcry, the president publicly said the FBI agents should interview anyone they wanted within reason and subject to a Friday deadline. It is unclear what the president might have told the FBI privately.
A major issue here is what standard of proof is needed to approve Judge Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. We said in an editorial last week, before Dr. Ford gave her testimony, “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.”
We stand by that.
Dr. Ford said she does not know whether it was Mark Judge or Brett Kavanaugh who pushed her into a second-floor bedroom, but she is “100% sure” that it was Brett Kavanaugh who went on top of her, tried to remove her clothing, ground his pelvis into her and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. She said she was afraid he would rape her and then afraid that he might “accidentally kill me.”
Some of the details of the incident are brighter in her memory than are others. What is indelible, she said, is the “uproarious laughter” Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh shared at this incident.
Events in Christine Blasey’s life in the weeks and years after the assault are typical of those in the lives of many victims of sexual assault: dropping out of a social scene and struggling academically.
Since this incident became public, thousands of people have showed their support for Dr. Ford, and a hundred or more others have signed letters in support of Judge Kavanaugh.
The New York Times spoke with some people who knew Brett Kavanaugh as a high school or college student. Some remember him indulging in heavy drinking, some say beyond the norms of college life. He was “frequently drunk and [was] someone who could become belligerent and mean when drunk,” one person reportedly said.
A classmate who has since become a doctor said it would be a “lie” for Brett Kavanaugh to say he never blacked out from drinking while in college. The doctor said he had seen Brett Kavanaugh very drunk many times and, according to the New York Times, he added, “There is no way he remembers everything about every night.”
The public statements of these and other people substantially corroborate Dr. Ford’s testimony and refute Judge Kavanaugh’s statement that he did not engage in heavy drinking and did not black out from drinking or commit or attempt to commit sexual assaults.
Yet these people and many other people with relevant knowledge were not on the president’s list. And, it appears that the FBI has not taken statements from these and many other people.
The nature and limited scope of the investigation allowed by the Republican-dominated committee and the president indicate it is more for show than for getting at the truth.
The full Senate – and the American people – deserve to hear the whole truth about this man.
Some have compared the Senate hearings to a job interview. Like many others, we question what sort of company would hire a person against whom there are very credible allegations about the attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl.
A tearful Judge Kavanaugh claimed that he would now be banned from coaching his daughter’s athletic teams.
If he thinks that people think he is unfit to be a coach, how can he possibly be appointed a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?
Are we really living in a country where volleyball parents have a higher ethical bar than the United States Senate?
Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior before the Judiciary Committee, moreover, was disturbing in its own right. His unsubstantiated accusations evinced a bias against liberals, Democrats and women who challenge him. He interrupted women and tried to bully his questioners. Banging on the lectern at times, he loudly proclaimed his victimhood in an alleged conspiracy of liberals and Democrats – and perhaps people who oppose violence against women.
This behavior does not show the public temperament we should see in a Supreme Court Justice. It showed the now-too-familiar pattern of a White privileged male bullying anyone he fears and wishes to control.
As we wrote last week, the people of this country have a right to 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.
We do not need to have two justices on the Court who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct.
If a person whose character is subject to doubt or whose truthfulness 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, and 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 already been politicized and that decisions are being made along political lines.
Some people have argued that Dr. Ford must prove her allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. That position ignores that Judge Kavanaugh is not being prosecuted for a crime. He is seeking a lifetime job on the Supreme Court. The people of this country have an important right having Justices on the Court whose character and integrity are beyond reproach and whose honesty is beyond doubt, or at the very least beyond a reasonable doubt. He has the burden of demonstrating that. Based on what we have seen, he has fallen far short.