Kavanaugh Vote Should Be Contingent On FBI Investigation
If Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had come across as a liar or a crackpot in her testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republican Senate leadership likely would have steamrolled to a vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. But Ford was steadfast and credible in her claim that Kavanaugh and at least one of his classmates had attempted to sexually assault during a drunken house party in 1982. More important, she and two other women who alleged similar conduct by Kavanaugh called for reopening the FBI background check into the nominee, whereas Kavanaugh and his supporters on the committee and in the broader Senate had resisted it. The obvious move for key senators who were on the bubble regarding the confirmation was to make their vote contingent upon completion of the background check. Friday, a day after Ford and Kavanaugh offered widely divergent testimony in terms of style and substance and two angry women confronted Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake on a Senate elevator, Flake did the right thing. He voted to move the nomination out of committee but said that his vote in the Senate would be contingent upon completion of the background check. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another key vote, joined him, and Republican leaders agreed to a one-week delay on votes to proceed, cloture and final confirmation. Flake saved the Senate leaders from the consequences of their own determination to ram through a vote regardless of outstanding questions to which the FBI might be able to provide some more definitive answers. Sending Kavanaugh to the court in the wake of the tempestuous and poorly handled confirmation process would have further darkened the cloud over the court, which a majority of Americans say is overly politicized. Flake, who is not seeking re-election and soon will leave the Senate, often has talked a better game than he has played regarding the Trump administration’s excesses and the Senate’s failure to act as a check. In this case, he rose to the challenge.