Valid Points From Both Sides Justify a Delay of Confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh

I probably spent way too much time today watching the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing. I watched the entire hearing with Dr Ford and then the entire hearing with Judge Kavanaugh. I know that this has been discussed from virtually every angle imaginable. I simply have two thoughts to share. There were valid points made by both Democrats and Republicans at today’s hearing. After today’s hearing, I believe the right thing for the senate to do, and by implication the Republican majority which controls the process, is to delay the confirmation for one week to allow for corroborating or exculpatory evidence to be discovered.  

Judge Kavanaugh and Dr Ford both testified under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Image credit NBCWashington.com)

Valid Points

Both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee made valid and important points about content and procedure in today’s hearing. Some of those points are (summarized by me) as follows:

  • Victims of sexual assault deserve to be heard.
  • Serious allegations deserve to be investigated.
  • Republicans are over eager to rush a confirmation given the seriousness of allegations leveled against Judge Kavanaugh.
  • Democrats need to transparently explain why they sat on this information instead of immediately bringing it to the hearing either in closed or open session. 

Democrats are rightfully indignant over the majority’s desire to rush through this confirmation without asking for FBI investigation of Dr Ford’s allegations. Republicans’ response to this call tended to be along the lines of “the FBI will just produce a report for us to read” or “the FBI doesn’t determine guilt.” These are true, but I find it troubling that the majority is not even willing to entertain finding more evidence through this means. The committee should want to find the truth. It should use every means necessary to find that truth. And Judge Kavanaugh should, and I believe would, cooperate. 

Republicans are also rightfully frustrated, as I see it, with the minority’s apparent lack of action. If the Democrats really cared about getting to the truth, why wait until the last minute to share the information? Why not call for an immediate investigation as soon as evidence was first presented? Why not question Judge Kavanaugh immediately on finding this evidence? Why would you help Dr Ford to find a lawyer and wait to share the information that these allegations existed? It does seem that there is at least some degree of political theater going on here. 

These are absolutely serious allegations. A person that has sexually assaulted anyone should not sit on the supreme court (or serve in any position in our government for that matter). 

While we should take serious allegations seriously, we must take care to determine when an allegation is credible.Spurious allegations of wrong doing should not be allowed to destroy the lives of honest, good, women and men. This responsibility rests on all of us: the American people, elected leaders, and the press.

A Delay

Given the seriousness of the allegations and the evidence that was presented in today’s hearing, I believe it is the right thing to do to delay the proceedings for a week to allow for a more thorough, non-partisan, investigation to take place. Directing the FBI to investigate and provide a report is in everyone’s best interest. The American people benefit by seeing our elected leaders care more about the truth than about their agenda. We benefit by preserving the integrity of the court.

An investigation will presumably discover corroborating or exculpatory evidence about these allegations. Corroborating evidence benefits Democrats by allowing them to be the public advocates for Dr Ford as a victim of sexual assault. It benefits Republicans in the same way and also allows them to take the moral high ground and tell the story of how they preserved the credibility of the Supreme Court. Exculpatory evidence benefits Republicans by allowing them to have a more sound footing for their confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh as well as to use the moral high ground narrative. It benefits Democrats similarly but in addition allows them to still take the position of advocates for Dr Ford.

Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh both benefit from truth that may be discovered by a delay and investigation. Although an investigation may reveal further truths that are damaging to them in the short term, in the long term the truth is better than a lie for either party. 

Humility

At the end of the day, this hearing and this confirmation reflect our collective character as Americans. I think that Senator Flake said it best when he said (addressing Judge Kavanaugh):

I am sorry for what has happened to you and your family as I am sorry for what has happened to her’s. This is not a good process but it’s all we’ve got. I would just urge my colleagues to recognize that in the end we are 21 very imperfect senators trying to do our best to provide advice and consent.

In the end there is likely to be as much doubt as certainty going out of this room today. As we make decisions going forward I hope that people will recognize that and in the rhetoric that we use and the language that we use going forward that we’ll recognize that, that there is doubt, we’ll never move beyond that. And just have a little humility on that front. 

C-SPAN Full Hearing Video – Senator Flake (Emphasis added)

In the end, it will require deep humility on the part of both Republicans and Democrats to take the right actions in this confirmation process. Each side needs to admit its mistakes and commit to moving forward in an appropriate, respectful, careful, manner.