Editorial: No on Kavanaugh

  • Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Friday, October 05, 2018

The full Senate is expected to vote today on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. But as this extraordinarily turbulent — and extraordinarily flawed — process has revealed, this vote is about much more than Kavanaugh.

It is about acknowledging the horrible way far too many men have treated far too many women for far, far too long.

It is about how the United States Senate, often referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body, has allowed its way of doing the business of the American people — its “regular order” — to be warped for partisan gain.

And it is about whether the American people will ever again trust the Supreme Court.

Republicans now appear to have the votes necessary to confirm Kavanaugh. Stranger things have happened, however, and we hope that narrow window shuts and the full Senate rejects his nomination.

We admire professor Christine Blasey Ford and the courage it took for her to wade into the maelstrom to tell her painful story about being attacked at a party by a drunken Kavanaugh when they were teenagers. If any good can be said to have come from this whole sorry episode, it is this: Thousands of women from all across the country have finally been able to share — in many cases for the first time — their own stories of harassment, abuse and assault. We believe them, and we encourage them to keep speaking out.

We also believe that the behavior attributed to the teenage Kavanaugh was reprehensible, but being an idiot at 17 is not particularly unusual and should not automatically disqualify someone 35 years later from professional advancement. However, rather than acknowledge to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his aggressively irresponsible youthful drinking may have rendered him unable in some cases to recall his actions, which three of his Yale University classmates have independently confirmed, Kavanaugh postured, parried, snarled and lied.

These are not the qualities America wants or needs in a Supreme Court justice.

We believe the Republican leadership in Congress, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has demonstrated staggering hypocrisy. First, they refused to grant even a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in the spring of 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Then, in an effort to hustle Kavanaugh through the confirmation process before November’s potentially game-changing midterm elections, they withheld many thousands of relevant documents from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House, stalled an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations and then, with President Donald Trump’s help, grudgingly allowed a rushed and limited probe that — should the American people ever learn its “secret” findings — promises to raise more questions than it answered.

This is not how vacancies on the highest court in the land should be filled.

Finally, we believe Kavanaugh has not been fully truthful — not just about his drinking, but also about his role in the nomination of controversial Judge Charles Pickering while working for Bush, for one example, and about his knowledge of the origin of materials stolen from Democratic Senate staff between 2001 and 2003. And he has also demonstrated a troubling partisan streak: The sexual misconduct allegations against him, he said in his angry testimony last week, were prompted by “revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

That should give serious pause to anyone who may have business before any court on which Kavanaugh sits.

It’s looking now like that might be the Supreme Court of the United States.

What a shame. What a sham.