There are a lot of Americans who strongly believe Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination should be placed on hold pending an FBI investigation of multiple allegations of sexual assault leveled against the judge by at least three accusers, one of whom provided sworn testimony to Congress on Thursday.
This week’s raucous hearing served to further galvanize public opinion. Kavanaugh’s at times bizarre behavior at best suggested he doesn’t possess anything that even remotely approximates the type of even-keeled demeanor one would expect from a Supreme Court justice. At worst, his schizophrenic performance belied an underlying sense of entitlement that manifested itself on Thursday in a palpable disdain for the process and a readily apparent pretentiousness towards those who dared to take his accusers seriously.
As we wrote on Thursday, Kavanaugh seemed to believe there was something unjust about the process itself. As if he, a privileged white man who espouses high-minded ideals and harbors pretensions to a moral high ground he pretty clearly imagines the majority of Americans can never reach, should not be subjected to scrutiny. One almost got the feeling it wasn’t so much the allegations he was angry about, but rather the fact that he was being called to answer them, an ironic twist considering his chosen profession.
Over the course of the last 12 hours, key bastions of support have either pulled or put contingencies on their endorsements.
For instance, the magazine of the Jesuit religious order called on Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn and withdrew its own endorsement of the SCOTUS nominee. Here are some excerpts from the rather stunning rebuke:
If this were a question of establishing Judge Kavanaugh’s legal or moral responsibility for the assault described by Dr. Blasey, then far more stringent standards of proof would apply. His presumption of innocence might settle the matter in his favor, absent further investigation and new evidence. But the question is not solely about Judge Kavanaugh’s responsibility, nor is it any longer primarily about his qualifications. Rather it is about the prudence of his nomination and potential confirmation. In addition to being a fight over policy issues, which it already was, his nomination has also become a referendum on how to address allegations of sexual assault.
What is different this time is that this nomination battle is no longer purely about predicting the likely outcome of Judge Kavanaugh’s vote on the court. It now involves the symbolic meaning of his nomination and confirmation in the #MeToo era. The hearings and the committee’s deliberations are now also a bellwether of the way the country treats women when their reports of harassment, assault and abuse threaten to derail the careers of powerful men.
While nomination hearings are far from the best venue to deal with such issues, the question is sufficiently important that it is prudent to recognize it as determinative at this point. Dr. Blasey’s accusations have neither been fully investigated nor been proven to a legal standard, but neither have they been conclusively disproved or shown to be less than credible. Judge Kavanaugh continues to enjoy a legal presumption of innocence, but the standard for a nominee to the Supreme Court is far higher; there is no presumption of confirmability. The best of the bad resolutions available in this dilemma is for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn.
As remarkable as that was, even more striking is news that the The American Bar Association is now calling on Kavanaugh’s nomination to be placed on hold pending an FBI probe.
Here’s what ABA President Robert Carlson told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter received on Thursday:
We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law. Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.
Respectfully, the Senate should recognize that a thorough FBI investigation will demonstrate its commitment to a Supreme Court that is above reproach.
Carlson went on to contend that Kavanaugh’s nomination should proceed “only after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Blasey and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
In their infinite wisdom, the GOP is going to ignore the ABA.
On Friday morning, Senate Republicans rejected Democrats’ efforts to subpoena Mark Judge, the man who Christine Blasey Ford claims was in the room when the alleged assault occurred. Judge has written voluminously about his drinking days and in a 1997 memoir, he talks about a character named “Bart O’Kavanaugh” who had a penchant for vomiting in vehicles and passing out drunk.
Arguably, the refusal on the part of Republicans to compel his testimony is tantamount to complicity in a politically-motivated coverup of credible sexual assault allegations.
This is, simply put, political suicide on the part of Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans. They are now literally advancing a Supreme Court nominee over the objections of the ABA.
The myopia inherent in Republicans’ decision calculus here is mind boggling. There is no scenario in which this has a happy ending for anyone involved.
Full letter from the ABA