OUR OPINION: Kavanaugh allegation: Give accuser, accused full hearing

September 19, 2018

In the wake of an allegation of sexual misconduct made by a California woman against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are following the right strategy by inviting testimony from both accuser and accused at a public hearing scheduled for Monday.

Without question, senators who will make a decision on whether Kavanaugh will join the High Court should hear from and ask questions of Christine Blasey Ford; Kavanaugh should have the opportunity to speak to her accusation and answer questions, as well. If necessary, the committee should invite additional witnesses to testify.

As observers of the increasingly politicized environment surrounding nominations to the Supreme Court, the cynic in us can’t help but question the timing of this allegation. Our cynicism grows when we learn Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein of California – a member of the Judiciary Committee who, by the way, is complaining this week about Republicans trying to rush through the Kavanaugh nomination - was in possession of a letter written by Ford about her accusation nearly two months ago, but didn’t inform her committee colleagues until last week.

At a minimum, we share this position expressed in a Sunday San Francisco Chronicle editorial critical of its home-state lawmaker: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s treatment of a more than three-decade-old sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was unfair all around. It was unfair to Kavanaugh, unfair to his accuser, and unfair to Feinstein’s colleagues — Democrats and Republicans alike — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Still, we wish to be clear: Ford’s accusation of an incident at a party when she and Kavanaugh were high school students in Maryland should not be ignored or otherwise minimized.

At the same time, we see no reason at this point for President Trump to remove Kavanaugh’s name from consideration or for Kavanaugh to withdraw from the process.

Senators should hear what Ford, Kavanaugh, and perhaps others, have to say.

Then, this process should move forward in timely fashion to a vote.

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