Stop the Kavanaugh Farce

A wave of allegations against Supreme Court nominee make voting on him tomorrow untenable.

A wave of allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have emerged over the last 24 hours, most of them incredible. Additionally, two separate men have reportedly come forward to claim that they, not Kavanaugh, were the one who attempted to rape young Christine Blasey. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to go forward with hearings at 10 Eastern and then rush through a vote tomorrow morning. That’s simply unacceptable.

As I’ve made clear in previous postings, I both believe Christine Blasey Ford suffered some sort of sexual trauma in her teenage years. While I’m skeptical about the fact that her memory has become more detailed as the story has unfolded—she’s now sure what year the attack took place, for example—there’s simply no reason a woman of her standing would make up these allegations. At the same time, I’m not persuaded that Kavanaugh was the perpetrator.

The second accuser, who is even fuzzier on the details and who concedes she was exceedingly intoxicated at the time, is less credible. But her story is actually much more plausible. Humiliating a drunken girl to gain the admiration of his social circle seems consistent with countless descriptions of not his own behavior but those of his social circle at the time. That he’s steadfastly denied not only the specific allegation but being that kind of guy is problematic.

The third accusation, that he routinely attended parties where gang rapes were the featured entertainment, is simply unbelievable. Nor does the story of the accuser herself make any sense. And there is some reason to be suspicious of her veracity. Still, she’s a successful professional with multiple security clearances and seemingly little to gain here. Her claims ought to be investigated.

I haven’t had time to process the other allegations that came out overnight but they seem fishy. Indeed, they seem to have been released by Senate Republicans precisely because they’re fishy, presumably to cast all of the allegations in a bad light.

Similarly, while we don’t have any real details by which to judge the claims that two men have come forward to claim they were the ones who accosted Blasey, it seems wildly implausible.

Regardless, there’s enough confusion now to make voting on Kavanaugh tomorrow farcical. If he’s confirmed, his tenure on the Supreme Court would forever be tainted. If he’s not, it would render his continued tenure on the DC Court of Appeals dubious.

I don’t see how we can legitimately proceed now without a thorough, independent investigation. Given how long it would likely take, the pressure to simply withdraw the nomination would be strong. That would be a bitter pill, indeed, if Kavanaugh proves to be innocent. But ramming him through if he isn’t would be a travesty.

FILED UNDER: Supreme Court
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    But ramming him through if he isn’t would be a travesty.

    Ahh, but just about everything involving Trump is a travesty, so why not this too…

    16
  2. drj says:

    I don’t see how we can legitimately proceed now without a thorough, independent investigation.

    Republicans will never allow this to happen.

    Even if such an investigation would fail to turn up evidence that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted anyone (which is possible), it would nonetheless show that he has been shamelessly lying about his drinking and partying – which would rather fatally undermine his (and their) credibility.

    For instance, how would it look if Mark Judge in the course of such an investigation takes the Fifth? Which he will:

    Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated in it.

    I don’t know, of course, but that third accusation might not be as unbelievable as you think it is.

    Republicans are never going to risk it.

    12
  3. Ben Wolf says:

    While I’m skeptical about the fact that her memory has become more detailed as the story has unfolded—she’s now sure what year the attack took place, for example—there’s simply no reason a woman of her standing would make up these allegations.

    What standing is that?

    Still, she’s a successful professional

    You are completely oblivious to your own class bias.

    11
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I have no doubt at this point that Kavanaugh is guilty, of just exactly what I am unsure, but nobody lies as much as he has unless they are trying to hide something. Maybe it is of just being an uncouth and drunken teenager with a really shitty taste in friends (but birds of a feather flock together) as testified to by their yearbooks. Or maybe he is a serial sexual predator.

    But he has lied repeatedly and it is that lying that makes him unsuitable for the Supreme Court.

    19
  5. I don’t see how we can legitimately proceed now without a thorough, independent investigation. Given how long it would likely take, the pressure to simply withdraw the nomination would be strong. That would be a bitter pill, indeed, if Kavanaugh proves to be innocent. But ramming him through if he isn’t would be a travesty.

    Agreed.

    12
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nicole Bedera:

    I’m a sociologist who studies adolescent sexual violence. In this thread, I offer the basic facts everyone should know about sexual assault to make sense of the #Kavanaugh allegations. (And citations in case you want to read up yourself.)

    An interesting tweet thread for those who would like to get some context on all this.

    6
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: A couple things from the tweet thread:

    Sexual violence is common, especially among adolescents. The best studies estimate that as many as 10.8% of young men commit an act of rape before graduating from college.

    Most of these men don’t harbor a particular hatred for women, but instead use violence and harassment as a way to bond with other men and assert their masculinity.

    These behaviors are so common that girls and women commonly dismiss them or minimize their impact. Being sexually harassed or assaulted is just part of being around adolescent boys.

    This is one reason why Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez might have waited to come forward. Women feel a pressure to minimize what happened, but it can be hard to ignore when the pain remains (and intensifies) over time. This is why a teenage rape often comes up in counseling as an adult.

    6
  8. Kathy says:

    But a man who sexually assaults women , and lies about that and other things, is perfect for the current orange owner of the Supreme Court. Therefore there’s no doubt Donald J. Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

    4
  9. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    An interesting tweet thread for those who would like to get some context on all this.

    Well that was interesting. But I have a few problems with it.

    The tweet that kicks the thread off:

    Sexual violence is common, especially among adolescents. The best studies estimate that as many as 10.8% of young men commit an act of rape before graduating from college.

    Woah, hold the phone…am I being primed? (I think so.)

    But this for me, is the most problematic part of that:

    Regardless of their reasons for staying quiet, it’s important to note that we should probably #StartByBelieving Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez since false allegations of sexual assault are actually really, really rare.

    So if 10.8% is considered “common,” then what is “really, really rare?”

    Is it possible that a highly charged event like a Supreme Court nomination might provide more than sufficient opportunity for some false allegations?

    7
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Woah, hold the phone…am I being primed? (I think so.)

    But of course you would think so because that way you can just pretend it isn’t real.

    So if 10.8% is considered “common,” then what is “really, really rare?”

    That’s a fair point.

    @James Pearce:

    Is it possible that a highly charged event like a Supreme Court nomination might provide more than sufficient opportunity for some false allegations?

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….. You spelled “confessions” wrong because the 2 the GOP have started a whisper campaign about are laughable. In the meanwhile I will let you continue with your fruitless and fact free conspiracy mongering.

    2
  11. Gustopher says:

    The third accusation, that he routinely attended parties where gang rapes were the featured entertainment, is simply unbelievable.

    I think you might have a rather inflated sense of humanity, or at least the moral judgements of entitled drunk bros. This type of thing happens, more often than you think, but not commonly.

    Whether Kavanaugh’s little douchebag crowd was doing this, I don’t know, but from the confirmed reports of their behavior, they definitely seem like the type of people who might. And Mike Judge’s ex-girlfriend is claiming he told her of participating in one.

    I am skeptical of the claim, but not dismissive of it.

    7
  12. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    But of course you would think so because that way you can just pretend it isn’t real.

    After Ford went to the Washington Post and the Democrats — with polygraph and therapist notes already in hand– you’ll have to forgive me for suspecting that there might be some political motives at play here.

    3
  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I agree with you. When I was in college just a few years before Kavanaugh, a frat (Theta Xi?) was kicked off campus for exactly this type of behavior. Heck, Frats are still routinely kicked off campus for exactly this type of behavior. Another data point, the movie “Animal House” came out when Kavanaugh was in high school and it depicted a scene with exactly this kind of “get a younger girl so drunk she passes out and then sexually assault her”, and played it for laughs! My daughter (21 now) and every single one of her friends have taken it as a given since they were in high school that they never let a drink leave their hands whether it is soda or beer or whatever, and if they set it down to go to the bathroom it becomes a dead soldier and they get a new one when they come out. So, James, if you find this behavior “simply unbelievable” you better wake the hell up before your daughters get to high school.

    And as for the credibility of Kavanaugh trying to slap the woman’s face with his penis, I think the sports team or fraternity hazing horror stories are relevant. It is amazing just how often the rituals involve men doing something with their penises or having something done to them with their “brothers” penises. Kavanaugh’s young adult personality is coming through loud and clear as the embodiment of the privileged, obnoxious, drunken frat boy, desperately on the prowl for sex and viewing women as nothing more than pieces of meat. Has he outgrown it? Perhaps, to some degree. But not enough for him to be a godd*mn man and accept responsibility. Instead he is getting his “brothers” to participate in the same old slut shaming tactics of his past.

    9
  14. Paine says:

    Additionally, two separate men have reportedly come forward to claim that they, not Kavanaugh, were the one who attempted to rape young Christine Blasey.

    It’s like Avon Barksdale ordering some goons to turn themselves in to do the time for a lieutenant.

    6
  15. al Ameda says:

    At this point only Jeff Flake can stop this train at the Committee level. Then, opponents probably need about 4 or 5 Republican senators to vote ‘no’ (assuming that 3 Democrats will go with Trump on this one) in order to derail this nominee.

    I personally think that Kavanaugh will be confirmed and that he will join the perpetually embittered Clarence Thomas on the Court.

    The only winner in this one seems to be Mitch McConnell who gamed this to deny Democrats one Justice while getting 2 very conservative and very young Justices on the Court.

    4
  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Paine: You have to wonder if they will stick to the story when they find out that there is not statute of limitation for rape in MD. “Impossible to prove after all this time” kind of melts away when you have a confession under oath.

    6
  17. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    After Ford went to the Washington Post and the Democrats — with polygraph and therapist notes already in hand– you’ll have to forgive me for suspecting that there might be some political motives at play here.

    She went to her Senator, who would be voting on this turd. And she expected that she wouldn’t be believed, so she did what she could to corroborate her claims.

    This doesn’t seem particularly suspicious.

    And, WaPo is a reasonable choice as well — she’s trying to get the story out, while retaining her anomnymity. She would have preferred not to have her life torn apart.

    I think WaPo may have dropped the ball. There is enough evidence of Kavanaugh’s scumbag youth easily available that a little scratching for corroboration would have turned up a story — maybe not a story of attempted rape, but a good background story.

    7
  18. James Joyner says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    You are completely oblivious to your own class bias.

    Oh, I’m aware of my class bias. I don’t think well-off professionals are more honorable than minimum wages workers. I do, however, think they have more holding them back from making false allegations of this type. Ford not only has a lot to lose but she has access to quality legal advice.

    @Gustopher: @MarkedMan: As noted in the OP, I find the “kiss it” charge the most plausible because I think that sort of thing is incredibly common. I don’t doubt that there are rape parties but I can’t imagine that they’re particularly routine and am credulous that the stories of that are both just coming out and can’t be substantiated.

    3
  19. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    As noted in the OP, I find the “kiss it” charge the most plausible because I think that sort of thing is incredibly common.

    This just speaks to how importance it is to give credence to other people’s experience. I found that story to be the most astounding. The idea that someone, even a drunken frat boy type like Kavanaugh, would whip his junk out in front of other people and start waving it around, is just so alien to me I can’t even comprehend it.

    Unfortunately, I am more familiar with the “get her drunk and we will all do her” mentality. In another thread I pointed out an incident in the town I was living in a mere 10 years ago, with the boys involved being much like Kavanaugh.

    (Can anyone tell me how to link to a specific comment in another thread?)

    4
  20. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    (Can anyone tell me how to link to a specific comment in another thread?)

    The time stamp under the username at the top of a comment is a link to that comment.

    You can right-click it, select “copy link location,” and then paste that into a comment on another thread.

    1
  21. MarkedMan says:
  22. Franklin says:

    @James Pearce:

    So if 10.8% is considered “common,” then what is “really, really rare?”

    When I read descriptions of probability in these contexts, I usually interpret them as “more common than you might think” or “more rare than you might think“. For example, the claim that over 10% of men commit rape by the time they finish high school makes it much more common than I would have personally thought.

    1
  23. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    This doesn’t seem particularly suspicious.

    Who said it was suspicious? It’s politics, and I for one am not about to pretend that this is about getting justice for Christine Blasey Ford.

    It’s about damaging Kavanaugh enough that he doesn’t get confirmed for the SC. Looks like it may even work, too. But make no mistake: This is a political hit job, and there will be blowback.

    And, WaPo is a reasonable choice as well

    No, it’s a newspaper, one of the last that has any kind of cachet, but still…just a newspaper. “I’ve alerted the news media” is the lamest of all lame threats.

    In this day and age? The only people who believe in the partisan media are the partisans themselves. Imagine she went to Foxnews. It’s inconceivable that she would go to Foxnews. But where did Kavanaugh go for his softball interview? Foxnews.

    The partisan media is not your friend. It is the source of our country’s political atrophy.

    @Franklin:

    For example, the claim that over 10% of men commit rape by the time they finish high school makes it much more common than I would have personally thought.

    Still comes off as working the refs to me.

    Every time I hear someone saying “false reports are rare,” I’m struck that if that’s true, a high stakes SC nomination is precisely the scenario in which they would be deployed.

    1
  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce:

    So if 10.8% is considered “common,” then what is “really, really rare?”

    If the incident of your parachute not opening was one in ten (really, closer to one in 9), would you consider that uncommon or rare? Would you skydive?

    I realize that this is only rape that we’re talking about and not something important, but you’re deplorable!

    ETA: What’s your next rationalization, that she can’t be credible because she’s geeky looking?

    5
  25. Kathy says:

    @James Pearce:

    This is a political hit job

    You know, from time to time I figure you may have something interesting or thoughtful to say. I tend to just skip your comments, because the odds of that are very low. Still, now and then I look, and then I find things like this.

    Now, if this were a matter of false accusations with sympathetic witnesses, why wasn’t it tried last year with Gorsuch? Why wait for Kennedy’s unexpected vacancy and Kavanaugh?

    Because there was no gross misconduct in Gorsuch’s past, as there is with Kavanaugh. But since there is with the latter, then it behooves the Democrats to take advantage of it.

    You may recall, if you cast your mind back to the distant days of last week, that Feinstein referred Dr. Ford’s letter to the FBI, and then various Democrats requested the FBI investigate the matter further. This did not happen. Instead Kavanaugh made a flat denial, which he then piled up on and doubled and tripled down on. The GOP aided and abetted this, refusing to hold serious hearings with all relevant witnesses, or to carry out a competent investigation. To top it off, they intend to hold the committee vote tomorrow, not quite a full day after today’s hearings.

    So it was Kavanaugh and the GOP who escalated the matter, refusing reasonable requests, refusing any attempt to defuse the matter, and you claim the consequences of all that constitute a hit job?

    What have you been smoking?

    7
  26. MikeyParks says:

    She was bought and paid for by the Democrats. She’s lying and everyone, including all the HuffPo rejects on this board, know it. How much integrity you have boils down to how much you hate Trump. The more hate, the less integrity.

    2
  27. James Pearce says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I realize that this is only rape that we’re talking about and not something important, but you’re deplorable!

    Call me whatever you want, but the politicization of rape allegations is not a good thing.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    You know, from time to time I figure you may have something interesting or thoughtful to say. I tend to just skip your comments, because the odds of that are very low. Still, now and then I look, and then I find things like this.

    Pearce started out pretending he was a liberal and was merely advising other anti-Trumpers on our poor use of tactics. But he has pretty much shed that persona now. He is basically a more sane Florack or TM01. He espouses the exact same opinions as they do but couches it in more genteel language. Check out the thread on the cop that shot the black man in his own apartment. Absolutely no chance whatsoever that race had anything to do with it. No choice other than she was legitimately mistaken as to whose apartment she was in. And, like our resident hysterical Trumpers, completely ignores any evidence to the contrary. On this thread he basically delivers “Bitchez be Lyin” in a nice envelope.

    I actually appreciate Pearce in this garb. He just made himself ridiculous when he was pretending to be someone else.

    3
  29. James Pearce says:

    @Kathy:

    What have you been smoking?

    The usual. It’s legal in my state.

    Why is it so controversial to acknowledge that it’s a political hit job when it is? Remember when Kavanaugh wasn’t suitable for the Court due to his view on Roe? Remember the perjury?

    I’m so sick of partisans going, “We’re not being partisan.”

    3
  30. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    On this thread he basically delivers “Bitchez be Lyin” in a nice envelope.

    Perhaps he needs help evaluating what “nice” means.

  31. Teve says:

    @Kathy: He’s a troll. His shtick is “Hey I’m a good liberal like you guys but Dang, Democrats/black people are wrong about (Topic x)”

    5
  32. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan: Still moaning about my persona? I could reply in more length, but I’ve got something else to do tonight.

  33. Guarneri says:

    @TM01:

    I must correct you. They never had it to begin with.

  34. John430 says:

    New Democrat trick is the same as their old trick: Guilty by political assassination.

  35. @John430: Indeed. It is remarkable how much this process has been like that of Gorsuch, Alito, Roberts… Why, the pattern is undeniable!

    1
  36. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Please rename this blog. Calling it OUTSIDE the Beltway is a misnomer. Call it Democrats Uplifting More Bulls**t. Or better—use the acronym.