Now Is The Time To Hold Real Hearings On The Kavanaugh Nomination

Senate major­i­ty leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee chair­man Charles Grassley have repeat­ed­ly sig­naled that they are more inter­est­ed in seat­ing President Trump’s nom­i­nee on the Supreme Court than in per­form­ing their sworn duty to pro­vide advice and con­sent as part of a sys­tem of checks and bal­ances. But, as the con­fir­ma­tion process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been rocked by alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al assault and pro­found ques­tions about whether this nom­i­nee has been prop­er­ly vet­ted, McConnell and Grassley can no longer be allowed to reject the basic stan­dards for Senate con­sid­er­a­tion of Supreme Court picks.

It is now abun­dant­ly clear that, in their rush to con­firm an excep­tion­al­ly con­tro­ver­sial nom­i­nee, McConnell and Grassley dis­re­gard­ed their oaths of office and the man­dates of the Constitution. They shamed them­selves and the cham­ber they have occu­pied for most of their adult lives — McConnell since 1985, Grassley since 1981.

With just days to go before Thursday’s sched­uled vote by the Judiciary Committee on the Kavanaugh nom­i­na­tion, McConnell and Grassley have been tripped up in their rush to posi­tion Trump’s man on the bench in time for the October term of the high court—and, of far more con­se­quence in McConnell’s fierce­ly par­ti­san cal­cu­lus, before November elec­tions that might upset dom­i­nance of the Senate by cor­po­rate-aligned Republicans.

California col­lege pro­fes­sor Christine Blasey Ford has alleged that Kavanaugh sex­u­al­ly assault­ed her more than three decades ago, when they were high-school stu­dents. She has told her sto­ry in a let­ter to California Senator Dianne Feinstein and a com­pelling inter­view with The Washington Post. She has pro­vid­ed details of a poly­graph test and ther­a­pist notes that cor­rob­o­rate her account.

Key Republican sen­a­tors, includ­ing Maine’s Susan Collins, who is con­sid­ered an essen­tial swing vote on court picks, and Arizona’s Jeff Flake, a mem­ber of the Judiciary Committee, say fur­ther action on the Kavanaugh nom­i­na­tion should be delayed until Ford is giv­en a hear­ing. “If they push for­ward with­out any attempt with hear­ing what she’s had to say, I’m not com­fort­able vot­ing yes,” Flake said Sunday. “We need to hear from her. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.” Even White House coun­selor Kellyanne Conway says, “This woman should not be insult­ed and she should not be ignored.”

Let me make very clear: I’ve spo­ken with the pres­i­dent, I’ve spo­ken with [South Carolina Senator Lindsey] Graham and oth­ers,” says Conway. “This woman will be heard. She’s going to… I think the Senate Judiciary Committee will decide how and through which forum.”

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have asked that Thursday’s planned vote on the nom­i­na­tion be put off until “seri­ous ques­tions about Judge Kavanaugh’s record, truth­ful­ness and char­ac­ter” can be “thor­ough­ly eval­u­at­ed and answered.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D‑RI) explains that this is about much more than a sim­ple time-out. “I admire the courage Ms. Ford has shown in com­ing for­ward with her sto­ry. This requires a pause, at a min­i­mum, in the unseem­ly, spe­cial-inter­est-fund­ed rush to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Court,” says Whitehouse, a vet­er­an pros­e­cu­tor and for­mer state attor­ney gen­er­al. “Kavanaugh’s blan­ket denial can­not be rec­on­ciled with her spe­cif­ic rec­ol­lec­tions, and the FBI needs time to take prop­er wit­ness state­ments. Lying to an FBI agent in a for­mal inter­view is a crime, and an impeach­able offense.”

If the Republicans insist on advanc­ing the nom­i­na­tion with­out a prop­er review by the FBI, the Judiciary Committee has to tem­per the excess­es of par­ti­san­ship that have so far been on dis­play in the approach of McConnell and Grassley to this process.

Ford must be afford­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to tes­ti­fy to the full com­mit­tee in a for­mal ses­sion that is orga­nized with an eye toward pro­vid­ing her with a fair and respon­si­ble hear­ing. Kavanaugh should also be called to tes­ti­fy. Witnesses who can pro­vide addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion and insight should be heard.

Fatima Goss Graves, the pres­i­dent and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, out­lines some basic stan­dards for how the Judiciary Committee, and the Senate, can pro­ceed: “Christine Blasey Ford nev­er asked to come for­ward and share her sto­ry about the sex­u­al vio­lence she says she expe­ri­enced at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh. She was dragged into the spot­light against her will. But now that Ford’s sto­ry is pub­lic, the Senate is oblig­at­ed to take these alle­ga­tions seri­ous­ly and give them the care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion they deserve — while pro­tect­ing the pri­vate cit­i­zen who many will now tar­get for per­son­al destruc­tion because she has named her expe­ri­ence. The Senate has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to get it right this time and not repeat the wrongs that were done to Anita Hill in 1991. Anita Hill’s tes­ti­mo­ny and the wit­ness­ing of all who have come after her — espe­cial­ly over the past year — have made it indis­putable: sex­u­al harass­ment and sex­u­al vio­lence are behav­iors that must nev­er be excused or explained away. If the charges are true, Kavanaugh’s behav­ior makes clear that he is not fit for a seat on the Supreme Court, or any court.”

This must be seen as the point at which the Judiciary Committee begins the seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion of the Kavanaugh nom­i­na­tion that McConnell and Grassley thwart­ed with their hyper-politi­cized attempt to has­ten the process. Revelations regard­ing Kavanaugh that have emerged since the ini­tial Judiciary Committee ses­sions with the nom­i­nee must be reviewed. Christine Blasey Ford is pre­pared to tes­ti­fy, and sen­a­tors have a duty to con­sid­er that tes­ti­mo­ny. Emerging evi­dence that Kavanaugh has repeat­ed­ly lied to the com­mit­tee must also be con­sid­ered—in order to pro­vide con­text for his response to Ford’s account and, more broad­ly, to give sen­a­tors per­spec­tive when con­sid­er­ing a nom­i­na­tion that demands the over­sight McConnell and Grassley have tried to avoid. (Story orig­i­nat­ed here) https://​www​.then​ation​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​n​o​w​-​i​s​-​t​h​e​-​t​i​m​e​-​t​o​-​h​o​l​d​-​r​e​a​l​-​h​e​a​r​i​n​g​s​-​o​n​-​t​h​e​-​k​a​v​a​n​a​u​g​h​-​n​o​m​i​n​a​t​i​on/