By Greg Estabrooks, Staff Writer
Just a short time ago, the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States seemed inevitable. With the Republican party in firm control of the Senate, where they need only a simple majority to confirm the nominee, it appeared as though Kavanaugh would enjoy a cakewalk to a seat in the highest court of the land.
In his confirmation hearings, which began on September 6th after a futile effort by Democrats to stall it, Kavanaugh impressed and proved to be articulate and well spoken. Democrats and Republicans alike battered the nominee with questions about his judicial philosophy, and attempted to extract clues from him about how he might rule on key issues such as abortion and executive privilege.
The qualifications of Brett Kavanaugh have never been an issue. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and he was a law clerk for Anthony Kennedy, the former Supreme Court Justice whose vacant seat he is nominated for.
Kavanaugh also worked under Ken Starr during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, as well as in the Bush White House as the 43rd President’s Staff Secretary. Most recently, he served as a Justice on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is commonly viewed as the 2nd most powerful court in the country.
What has become a concern over the past week or so is the character of Brett Kavanaugh. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, made an announcement that she had received an anonymous letter which alleges that Kavanaugh had been involved in a sexual assault when he was in high school.
This announcement, of course, came just before the Senate was to vote on whether or not Kavanaugh should be confirmed. The sender of the letter has subsequently identified herself as Christine Blasey Ford, a professor from California.
Ford alleges that Kavanaugh groped her at a party they were attending, over 30 years ago, and that he tried to pull her clothes off but was ultimately unsuccessful. She recently told reporters in a statement that she felt it was her civic duty to come forth now with her story, and that she hopes it prevents Kavanaugh from being nominated to the court.
Ford is willing to testify before the Senate about the allegations under certain conditions and assurances, such as fair questioning and security guarantees.
If the allegations are in fact true, and this is something the Senate will have to determine after they listen to Ford and Kavanaugh each testify under oath about the incident, might Brett Kavanaugh still be confirmed? And should he be?
One does not have to delve too far back into the history books to find a strikingly similar scenario in which a nominee was confirmed after allegations of sexual misconduct arose during the confirmation process. Justice Clarence Thomas was forced to answer to the testimony of Anita Hill in 1991, in which she claimed that Thomas had sexually harassed her during their time working together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He was, however, eventually given the nod of approval by the Senate, and won the vote 52-48.
Like Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh must now defend his character and attempt to convince the Senate that the allegations against him are no more than just that. And with no corroborating witnesses or any hard evidence implicating Kavanaugh, it will unfortunately be a classic case of he said, she said, and tough decisions about credibility will have to be made.
If the story told by Ford does come across to the Senate as believable, the Democrats may have their silver bullet in thwarting a dreaded conservative nomination to the court. Although, Kavanaugh seems highly unlikely to withdraw his nomination, so it will likely still come to a vote, and therefore the decision will in the end be made by the Republicans, who may look past the incident even if they believe Ford.
And would the Senate necessarily be making a mistake by confirming a man who made a call of poor judgement over 30 years ago? Kavanaugh, now 53, with an otherwise impeccable resume and undoubtedly a firm grasp on the concept of right and wrong, has risen to the top ranks in our justice system and is clearly no longer the boy he was when he was 17.
When evaluating the moral character of someone, it seems rational to evaluate them on a wholesome basis and not on any one particular action that they may have committed, especially when young and immature. By considering his life as a whole and setting aside personal political beliefs and convictions, one could easily find that Brett Kavanaugh is eminently qualified and worthy to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.
PHOTO COURTESY: THE BOSTON HERALD