Back on July 9, when President Trump declared Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be his choice to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, we noted that the Democratic war against his confirmation had actually begun the week before with leading Democrats railing against anyone on President Trump’s list of possible nominees. We suggested their opposition would probably have an air of “fill in the blanks” about it.
Indeed, the ensuing challenge to Judge Kavanaugh has been of a piece with the “resistance” mentality that has overtaken the Democratic party. Thus, in an op-ed in the July 2 issue of the New York Times, headlined “Our Rights Hang In the Balance,” New York’s senior senator, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, declared,
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has created the most important vacancy on the Supreme Court in our lifetimes. Whoever fills Justice Kennedy’s seat will join an evenly divided court with the ability to affect the rights of its citizens for generations. Enormously important issues hang in the balance: the right of workers to organize, the pernicious influence of dark money in politics, the right of Americans to marry who they love, the right to vote….affordable health care and a woman’s freedom to make the most sensitive medical decisions about her body….
Given this vacancy, the best way to defend those rights is for a bipartisan majority in the Senate to lock arms and reject a Supreme Court nominee who would overturn them…. If you do not want a Supreme Court Justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade and undo the Affordable Care Act, tell your senators they should not vote for a candidate from Mr. Trump’s preordained list…
Though these remarks seemed rather obstructionist and unseemly for someone holding such high office, he followed up even more shrilly moments after the Kavanaugh nomination was announced and before confirmation hearings were even scheduled: “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same. The stakes are simply too high for anything less.”
And this despite the fact that years earlier, the Senate had five times vetted and approved Mr. Kavanaugh for a seat on the federal court of appeals in Washington, DC and before that as a high-ranking member of the George W. Bush administration.
Sadly, there was more of this sort of thing. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, who once insisted the Kavanaugh nomination was “evil” and who last made news by comparing himself to the gladiator Spartacus of Roman legend, actually said the issue of Kavanagh’s confirmation is “not whether he is ‘innocent or guilty’ – this is not a trial – but, ultimately, have enough questions been raised that we should not move on to another candidate.”
Extraordinary. After all the wholly uncorroborated shmutz and vile accusations thrown Kavanaugh’s way, it doesn’t matter if they are true or not or that he has categorically denied them? Can the man be serious – or be taken seriously?
And then there was New York’s junior senator, Kirstin Gillibrand, who actually said: “The stakes of the vote on Kavanaugh? Deciding whether we’re a country that listens to and believes women. Each of my colleagues in the Senate needs to determine if women’s voices, traumas and stories matter to them. I’ve made my decision.”
How’s that again? The issue is whether the charges are proven or a least corroborated. What kind of democracy would we have if a mere charge were credited as being true even in the case of a vigorous denial by the accused? And this, to this point, is the factual pattern in the Kavanaugh-Ford conflict.
To be sure, these kinds of offenses against women obviously do happen and most times out of the view of witnesses and with no corroborating evidence – and thus not provable. But in terms of whether a societal judgment of culpability can be made in a particular case, it must be kept in mind that a negative cannot be proven and maybe – in a particular case – the claimed act may not have been committed.
Sen. Gillibrand’s approach is incompatible with rational government.