Does the Kavanaugh nomination have a chance?

It was considered a slam-dunk, the appointment of a conservative, qualified judge by a Republican-majority Senate, which means a Republican-majority Senate Judiciary Committee that votes on the nominee and sends its recommendation to the Senate for the full vote. A few inconsistent statements by the nominee and some paperwork withheld from Judiciary Committee Democrats aside, there remained the expectation that Brett Kavanaugh would be appointed to the Supreme Court for life, possibly changing the course of jurisprudence in the country.

Then, came the accusation.

The News Made Simple gives a rundown on the timeline, so check it out. Then, let’s take a look at whether or not the nomination will make the grade.

The nomination is doomed.

Dr. Blasey declines the opportunity to testify and requests an investigation

Sexual assault requires expertise to understand and unwrap. Universities that consider sexual assault cases, for example, give victims the ability to testify alone to special counselors trained in the field. These experts determine what to ask, and what not to ask, and how to evaluate information.

People who have not been assaulted–or who aren’t trained in this type of crime–don’t always understand common denominators of assault reporting: details may be hazy, years may have passed, which neither refutes nor validates the legitimacy of a claim.

The job of a sexual assault expert is to neutrally and competently evaluate testimony about an event, neither of which can be guaranteed by a political, partisan group with agendas and a lack of training.

Dr. Blasey requests an investigation, and without it–or something equally impartial– the nomination will feel unfair to many Americans, and a product of partisanship rather than careful deliberation.

credibility of witness

Dr. Blasey is a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University and Stanford University, and a published researcher in her field. She sought out therapy for the assault years ago, and has the notes to prove it.

letters of support

A group of women who went to Christine Blasey Ford’s high school are circulating a letter to show their support.

“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

The women also say that what Ford is alleging “is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

lie detector test

Dr. Blasey’s attorney encouraged her to take a lie detector test to validate her story, which she did. She passed.

can’t get the nomination wrong

A lifetime appointment to the highest and most influential court in the country can’t be taken lightly. In the last decade, we have seen the Supreme Court legalize gay marriage, rewrite campaign finance laws, affirm the Affordable Care Act and Trump’s travel ban.

This nomination must feel legitimate to the American people, especially at a time when the rule of law and justice is under attack.

it’s not about what he did; it’s whether or not he’s lying

Judge Kavanaugh does not dispute aspects of the accusation (he doesn’t claim it was consensual, for example) but he refutes the entire thing: he said he didn’t do it, he wasn’t at the party, it wasn’t him.

Which means: the question that remains is whether or not he is lying, not whether or not it’s okay to do something a long time ago and then grow up to become a better person.

#MeToo

The Senate Judiciary Committee blew it the last time this happened. When Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, Anita Hill was grilled by the Committee (all white, all male). Check out some highlights here.

Following the appointment of Thomas to the Supreme Court, a record 47 women were elected to the House of Representatives, 24 for the first time, in what became known as “The Year of the Woman.” Dianne Feinstein was among those who were moved to service following those hearings.

This year, nine members of Congress have lost their jobs over sex-related scandals.

reputation of prep school

Mark Judge, a classmate of Brett Kavanaugh, and the second man Prof. Blasey puts in the room during her alleged attack has written memoirs of his time at Georgetown Prep. “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk” and “God and Man at Georgetown Prep,” chronicle his drinking and “immorality” that he says began at that school.

Note: Judge has denied attending the party at which Prof. Blasey alleges he witnessed the assault.

there are other judges in the sea

Republicans don’t need Brett Kavanaugh. There are plenty of other qualified, conservative options.

The charge is politically motivated and potentially baseless; the nomination will go forward.

why now

Here’s the sequence of events:

  • Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her thirty-plus years ago, when they were in high school in Maryland.
  • The senator sent the letter to Diane Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
  • Dr. Blasey reached out to a Washington lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases. On her advice, Blasey took a polygraph test, administered by a former  FBI agent, which she passed. She contacted the Washington Post, but they wouldn’t run the story because she insisted on anonymity.
  • Despite Feinstein’s efforts to keep the story confidential, word got out. So, Feinstein sent the letter to the FBI. The FBI redacted the victim’s name and sent the letter to the White House, to be included in Kavanaugh’s background file. It was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee members.
  • Dr. Blasey decided to tell the story herself and she agreed to an ‘on the record” interview with the Post.

Why did Diane Feinstein wait so long to reveal the letter? Was this an attempt to derail the nomination so late in the process that it would hurt midterm elections? Or delay the vote until after midterms?

Accusations of partisanship and politicking may have compelled the Republican majority to move ahead with the nomination process.

he said/she said

How can a nomination committee ascertain guilt/innocence of something that occurred so long ago? This is why there are statute of limitations on sexual assault cases: because it’s very difficult to prosecute and defend an event with no forensic evidence and a huge passage of time.

can we judge a judge on past conduct

Does past conduct matter? Orrin Hatch doesn’t think so. He says, what matters is “who the judge is today.”

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