Editorial Halt Kavanaugh vote until full investigation
A core principle in this country is that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty, as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.
The presumption of innocence does not mean, however, that accusations should be ignored.
The nomination process of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, has devolved into a political morass.
When first one woman and then another, who knew him in prep school days in Washington and college years at Yale University, came forward reluctantly in recent days to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, sides quickly formed.
Reactions galvanized around she said/he said and he lied/ she lied, with the impulse to automatically believe one or the other.
Details of the accusations by Christina Blasey Ford will come out in a hearing Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blasey Ford is expected to be questioned by a female attorney for the Republicans, which avoids the optics of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearing of 27 years ago when Hill answered to an all-male panel.
Will anyone’s mind be changed after Thursday’s hearing? Not likely; it still will be divided between the accuser and the accused. A full investigation, by the FBI, is necessary to get closer to the truth of what happened in the 1980s with the attempted rape alleged by Blasey Ford and sexual misconduct charged by Deborah Ramirez, who grew up in Shelton. A third woman, Julie Swetnick, signed a sworn affidavit Wednesday involving Kavanaugh, spiked drinks and gang rapes.
Yet, Judiciary leadership is calling for a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation the very next day after the hearing. This is wrong and tantamount to dismissing the allegations. The vote should be delayed until the FBI can investigate, as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
In the real world, Judge Kavanaugh would be demanding a full investigation, too, to save his reputation and remove a cloud from his possible tenure on the nation’s highest court. But in the real world of politics, shamefully all that counts is the number of votes that can shift the balance to a more conservative court.
A man who would be placed in an even higher position of judging Americans needs first to be judged by Americans themselves on his past judgment.
Some have opined on whether it is fair to assess someone on their youthful acts. That’s ridiculous. If someone is caught doing this at the same age today, they would face a possible prison sentence.
Politics should not be obscuring this process. The Republicans will time their next chess move based on the November elections. But this appointment is more important that any single Election Day.
Some see the Democrats behind the charges raised by Blasey Ford, Ramirez and now Swetnick. But this does a disservice to the women who have forfeited their privacy for the sake of getting to the truth.
In a week when Bill Cosby landed in handcuffs, we should need no further evidence that both sides of the accusation deserve a fair hearing.