Brett Kavanaugh has just been blind-sided at the last moment before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on whether to approve his nomination to the United States Supreme Court. He’s been hit by an accusation of “sexual misconduct” that is alleged to have occurred thirty-five years ago, when he was seventeen. There is no corroborating evidence so far. Apparently, sixty-five women who knew Kavanaugh at that time say he never mistreated women to their knowledge.
What to do? It’s difficult to say because there are several different issues that over-lap in this case.
First, we don’t yet have any proof that this event occurred. It’s just “He said-She said.”
Second, if proven, would such behavior thirty-five years ago, followed by unstained behavior since then, disqualify Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court? In the current environment, it certainly should disqualify him. By “current climate” I mean that people (myself included) are finally starting to pull their heads out of their “culus” about an age-old problem. With any luck, this isn’t just a phase that is going to pass. It will become the new normal. Certainly that would be unfair to Kavanaugh, whose alleged action would have occurred under a different morals regime. Thirty-five years ago was, like, 1983. (In January 1983, the Washington Redskins beat the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl. That’s how long ago it happened.)
Third, Diane Feindstein holding onto the letter, then releasing word of it at the last possible moment is pretty slimy. However, if you think that Senator Feinstein’s actions are wrong, then you must also think that the Republican majority refusing to hold hearings on Merrick Garland was wrong. They didn’t have to approve Garland. The Constitution doesn’t say that “The Senate must approve anyone nominated by the President-Emperor.” Ask poor Harriet Miers. The appointment of judges at all ranks has become politicized because people have taken to the courts to obtain what they can’t get through the legislative process. As Mr. Dooley opined, “politics ain’t bean-bag.”
Fourth, what should happen? Put the clutch down on the Kavanaugh nomination. Thoroughly investigate the accusation. Yes, if the Democrats regain the majority in the Senate before the investigation is completed, then Kavanaugh is toast. He will lose any vote on a purely party-line vote. It will not matter what the investigation discovers. It could acquit him and he would still lose. Even so, that would be better than having someone appointed to the Supreme Court under a cloud, especially this kind of cloud.
Reasoning by analogy, we’re all in the same boat as the Catholic priesthood. You can’t solve the problem by saying “Sorry” and promising transparency in the future. (Yes, there’s a certain comic element in Democrats going “zero tolerance!” on this issue, while rejecting it on other issues. Hypocrisy is central to American public life.) On the other hand, I’d be opposed to trying to strip Kavanaugh of his current position as an appellate court judge. (Like I said, hypocrisy is central to American public life.)
Final thing. Take a moment to recall the Duke lacrosse and Charlottesville frat cases. Both were examples of liberal lynch mobs. We can’t tell yet what is true about the Kavanaugh case. So, everyone should take a deep breath and think about what is best for th republic. Here endeth the sermon.