With at least two, and possibly three, separate women now accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault or impropriety, Republicans would appear to be left with two choices— reject his nomination or request an expedited FBI investigation in hopes of shedding more light on the allegations.
Anything short of that would reveal the Republican leaders of the Judiciary Committee as willfully complicit in elevating a potential sexual abuser to a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court. The Republican Party has, without question, lowered the bar on the question of character in the age of Donald Trump. But turning a blind eye to multiple allegations of sexual assault would lay bare any claim of remaining decency as fiction.
This really is the ultimate test for the GOP. Is the party so focused on filling the Supreme Court with a right-wing ideologue, who now conveniently espouses that the president is above the law, that it will overlook a past of drunken debauchery and possible abuse of women?
We recognize there are those who have doubts about the events described by the women who have come forward with allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. Some of the women acknowledge they have gaps in their own memories, given that the alleged events occurred in the 1980s. If Republicans doubt the women, they should ask the FBI to investigate, as the Senate Judiciary Committee did in the 1980s when the allegations by Professor Anita Hill came forward. Certainly, in 2018, the U.S. Senate can show at least as much concern for the treatment of women as was demonstrated 35 years ago, particularly since the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are far more serious in nature, involving charges of actual assault.
Instead of seeking the truth of the matter, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee attempted to force Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Professor Christine Blasey-Ford to testify on Monday, with Kavanaugh to respond the same day and an immediate vote to follow. We now know why Republicans were so eager to force a vote earlier this week. At the time they were pushing for a quick vote, they knew that more women were likely to come forward and they were hoping to cast the vote before that could happen. But is that really the way to elevate someone to the nation’s highest court? Under a cloud of suspicion?
If anyone would benefit from an FBI examination, it would be Kavanaugh— at least assuming he’s telling the truth about his high school and college days. Instead, his GOP backers are doing everything possible to block such an investigation. It’s Kavanaugh’s accusers who want the FBI involved. There’s likely a reason for that.
This entire episode reeks of the privileged white male entitlement culture that is on full display in Trump’s Washington. It is no coincidence that both of President Trump’s Supreme Court picks to date were products of Georgetown Prep, the elite all-male enclave of the children of the conservative Washington establishment. They grew up in a milieu in which they knew their place was set, based not on merit, but on the connections and wealth that they saw as their birthright. They drank and partied their way through high school and college and took liberties with women because they knew they could. They were entitled.
For those who would like to pass off such behavior as the exploits of youth, or “boys being boys,” we would only ask why the double standard? Young black males, younger than Kavanaugh was at the time, are routinely arrested and subjected to harsh sentences for such offenses. Donald Trump famously ran a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty in response to the 1989 arrest of five black teenagers who were suspects in the rape and beating of a jogger in New York’s Central Park. The young men, who were between the ages of 14 and 16, were initially convicted in a racially-charged trial and spent years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence and released.
When we now hear President Trump bemoaning that the allegations against Kavanaugh are “ruining his life,” it’s only proper to question where Trump’s sympathies were for the five black teenagers whose lives he helped to destroy, and to whom he has never apologized.
At worst, Kavanaugh faces a plum lifetime tenure in his current job as a federal appellate court judge, not life in prison, or the electric chair. Besides, this isn’t just a question of Kavanaugh’s past. He has categorically denied all of the allegations raised against him, so what is at stake today is his credibility. If he’s lying, the American people should know.
Kavanaugh’s past does matter, as do his current denials. If Republicans insist on advancing his nomination, they should at least take the time needed to find the truth.