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Kavanaugh Column, News

The Battle Lines are Drawn

Whoever said “politics is blood sport” (attributed to 20th Century Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan) wasn’t kidding.

Thursday’s fifth, and presumably final, day for the hearing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is set to go, with, it seems, half the country ready to “believe the woman” and half the country believing that Judge Kavanaugh is the victim of savage, hyper-political attacks that have little precedent in American history.

Kavanaugh submitted his written statement to the committee today. He said:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Members of the Committee: Eleven days ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school. I denied the allegation immediately, unequivocally, and categorically. The next day, I told this Committee that I wanted to testify as soon as possible, under oath, to clear my name.

Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired. There has been a frenzy to come up with something—anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious—that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last- minute smears, pure and simple. They debase our public discourse. And the consequences extend beyond any one nomination. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country.

As I told this Committee the last time I appeared before you, a federal judge must be independent, not swayed by public or political pressure. That is the kind of judge I am and will always be. I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. This effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. I am here this morning to answer these allegations and to tell the truth. And the truth is that I have never sexually assaulted anyone—not in high school, not in college, not ever.

Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith. And it contradicts the core promise of this Nation that all people are created equal and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. Allegations of sexual assault must be taken seriously. Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject of allegations also deserves to be heard. Due process is a foundation of the American rule of law.

Dr. Ford’s allegation dates back more than 36 years, to a party that she says occurred during our time in high school. I spent most of my time in high school focused on academics, sports, church, and service. But I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now. But that’s not why we are here today. What I’ve been accused of is far more serious than juvenile misbehavior. I never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes.

The allegation of misconduct is completely inconsistent with the rest of my life. The record of my life, from my days in grade school through the present day, shows that I have always promoted the equality and dignity of women.

I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford. I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone. I am innocent of this charge.

The separate allegations made this week by Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, via Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, and by “#metoo lawyer” Michael Avenatti on behalf of Julie Swetnick have apparently been judged too far afield for formal consideration by the committee. Ramirez admits to having been extremely inebriated at the time of the alleged incident, and the New Yorker admitted that it could find no corroborating witnesses. Swetnick’s allegation amounts to the charge that Kavanaugh was present when outrageous sexual assaults occurred at house parties, but again, no corroboration is available. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied these incidents ever occurred, and he asserted that Swetnick’s charges are “from the Twilight  Zone.”

With respect to Judge Kavanaugh, the allegations these women are making are not from some mysterious alternate dimension. These incidents either occurred or they didn’t, and Judiciary Committee Senators will have to lay down their money and take their choice. The committee’s decision Friday morning, and the full Senate vote early next week, may turn on whether senators are willing to go back to their states and tell their constituents they “didn’t believe the woman” – a risky political gambit in the #metoo era.