Over the past couple of weeks, the United States has witnessed one of the most consequential events of modern American politics. Most reading already know what I’m talking about: the confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
There have been countless takes on the process; quite honestly I feel like most of them are the same regurgitated nonsense. I’m going to give mine, with the full knowledge of my bias as a conservative but with no particular predisposition towards the character of Brett Kavanaugh. I’ve worked hard throughout this to come up with the most fair judgement I can of the situation using only reason as my guide.
My first reaction when I read the allegations was that Kavanaugh should withdraw. The description of the alleged rape attempt was horrific and gut-wrenching. I don’t think any person could read it without feeling sick to their stomach. Honestly, it would’ve been easy for me to disavow Kavanaugh. I’ve never had the same regard for him as I did Gorsuch; I found him to be too establishment and actually preferred Amy Coney Barrett when the shortlist of nominees went through the press. However, after reflection on the greater precedent, I decided to take a step back and wait to see how everything unfolded. To allow one accusation, without knowledge of the evidence, to derail a person’s life and career is not an example I want to be set.
What if something like this happened to myself? How could I disprove an unprovable allegation besides the denials that Kavanaugh has released? Of course, Kavanaugh may very well be guilty, but there have been instances such as the Rolling Stones article on UVA fraternity rape where the allegations have been proven false. Since Dr. Ford’s allegations have no corroboration, there is simply no way to prove/disprove them, at least at this time. Fortunately though, it seems society has gotten to the point where accusers like Dr. Ford are treated with respect and dignity.The current lack of evidence certainly doesn’t entail any negative treatment or blanket disbelief of her claim; due process just needs to be ensured for both sides. If Kavanaugh did do as she said, he deserves far worse than just not getting a Supreme Court seat.
In the next days, more details came out about the alleged rape attempt, accompanied by vehement denials every time. It began to look like a “he said, she said” scenario, but the evidence, in my eyes at least, began to favor Kavanaugh. All four named members at the alleged party submitted written denials, under penalty of perjury, that the incident didn’t happen. One of Dr. Ford’s closest friends who was named to be at the party, Leland Ingham Keyser, denied being at the party or even knowing Kavanaugh.
My opinion was shifted substantially by this denial, as the others named who had denied the allegation had been only Kavanaugh’s friends. With Keyser saying she didn’t even know Kavanaugh, it seemed far more possible to me that Dr. For either had a memory flaw or was lying. There seems no alternative motive for one of Dr. Ford’s friends to make such a firm denial than that it simply didn’t happen. This was where I was mentally going into the hearing.
The hearing changed everything. I didn’t watch all of Dr. Ford’s testimony, but I watched enough to know that she is telling her truth. Unless she is one of the most gifted liars alive, it seems apparent that she believed what she said completely, and it appears that the majority of people would agree with this. In my opinion, she is very likely a victim, the only question is whether Kavanaugh is the perpetrator. I acknowledge that she unequivocally states that it was him, but there have been discrepancies in her story against notes released from her therapist, as well as seemingly evolved information since the allegations originally came out.
When I listened to Judge Kavanaugh, the same sentiment came to mind. He was telling his truth, at least in regard to the allegation. The raw emotion shown didn’t attest to bad temperament, it shows that he is a man who believes he is being treated wrongly. That being said, it is entirely plausible that this thought of being wrongfully accused doesn’t equate to innocence. He almost certainly told (unprovable) lies about his drinking, such as never blacking out and “toned-down” definitions for vulgar words he used.
As some have pointed out, Kavanaugh could believe that these allegations are from so long ago and that he has lived a life so successful that they are irrelevant and simply there to ruin his reputation. He could know that he’s guilty, yet still have the appearance of innocence due to his belief that a drunken incident from high school shouldn’t have bearing over the Supreme Court. Likewise, he could have been too drunk to remember this incident, and truly believe he is innocent when he isn’t.
At this point, I don’t know what I think. I believe the FBI Investigation is good for the country and for the process, but as of time of writing no new information has come out. To rush a nomination of this consequence to the ideological shift of the court, as well as of precedent for the future, would be at best be misguided. If I assume nothing changes from this, there are a few questions I have to ponder and that I think the nation should ponder to reason what is the ethically correct path.
First, are we as a nation comfortable with the idea that one uncorroborated allegation can take down an individual who has had undisputed success and prestige throughout their professional career? Then, if the allegation is true, is something like this relevant when talking about the entire life of a well-regarded professional? Does it make a difference that the position he is nominated for deals heavily with ethics and morality, compared to an office like the presidency or even a position in business?
On the flipside, are we as a nation comfortable confirming someone that determines the law of our country, especially in a seat replacing a swing vote, who has been accused of such horrific crimes? Does it matter that the allegations are unproven, or does the severity alone disqualify someone to a position of such importance? Lastly, are any of us comfortable with the way this process has been handled, and what lasting impact will this highly partisan process have on the republic?