Americans are witnessing something they haven’t seen in over a decade: A boring Supreme Court confirmation process.
Ketanji Brown Jackson has already been thoroughly vetted, and she has acquitted herself well. Her confirmation does nothing to alter the Court’s ideological balance, so the stakes are relatively low. She is expected to sail through the process. Of course, we can expect plenty of theatrics from the senators presiding over her committee hearings, but most Republicans have also made a performance out of refusing to call into question the jurist’s character, motives, or personal history.
Maybe that explains why so much of the left’s media cognoscenti have taken the GOP’s bait. The Republicans’ implicit invocation of the maltreatment to which some of their party’s Supreme Court nominees have been subjected led many of their opponents to reprise that shameful behavior. Specifically, they have exhumed the charge that Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a would-be rapist from its political grave.
Brown Jackson should enjoy a smoother process than Kavanaugh. He was, after all, “credibly accused” of sexual assault, according to The View host Ana Navarro (an outlook tacitly endorsed by her cohosts). The grassroots progressive activist group Occupy Democrats agreed; the “credibly accused sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh” had it too easy. Fresh off a book tour in which he deemed the Constitution and its codification of rights “trash,” it isn’t surprising that the Nation’s Elie Mystal added that the GOP is only “pissed that Kavanaugh was credibly accused of attempted rape.”
Huffington Post senior politics reporter thought the point so salient that she invoked it twice, and she claimed that because “Brett Kavanaugh was credibly accused of sexual assault,” it invalidated Republicans’ efforts to frame themselves as uniquely collegial. “Today is a good day to remember that Christine Blasey Ford credibly claimed that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her,” the Daily Beast’s Matt Fuller asserted. “Republicans didn’t care.” Author and Vox.com senior correspondent Ian Millhiser’s made his own vulgar contribution to this sordid discourse. “One important distinction between Ketanji Brown Jackson and Brett Kavanaugh is that Ketanji Brown Jackson did not attempt to rape a woman when she was in high school,” he contended.
These statements presuppose that a conspiracy is at work: Not only did unseen forces suppress relevant corroborating information when the charge was issued in 2018, but those same forces are still, four years later, preventing enterprising investigators from verifying this explosive allegation against a sitting Supreme Court justice. “Credibly accused” has become a mantra. It is better understood as an affirmation of faith.
Recall some of the details of this process that have been lost amid the frantic pursuit of a tidy narrative: Blasey Ford did not want to become a public figure when she made these allegations in private—her private letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein relating the claim was leaked against her wishes. Even if the statute hadn’t elapsed, her claim was never prosecutable. She could not recall precisely when or where the alleged attack occurred. She said she had not named Kavanaugh as her attacker to anyone but her therapist. But when her therapist’s notes were provided to the Washington Post, they did not include the nominee’s name. Blasey Ford named three witnesses to the crime, one a “lifelong friend,” none of whom could corroborate her story.
A “credible” accusation is not a disquieting rumor. A “credible” allegation involving criminal wrongdoing—even a 36-year-old charge—should include some independently verifiable information. Blasey Ford’s claim did not.
Nor should the left be allowed to get away with the revisionist historical narrative that maintains Republicans somehow “didn’t care” about the allegations, mistreated Kavanaugh’s accuser, or rushed Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
Blasey Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, made a variety of demands on the GOP-led Judiciary Committee, most of which were met. She wanted more time for her client to decide whether she would testify publicly, and that request was honored. Katz wanted Kavanaugh’s accuser to be questioned by outside counsel and not the sitting members of the Judiciary Committee. That, too, was granted. Kavanaugh’s detractors insisted on a new FBI background investigation into the nominee, to which Senate Republican leadership also agreed. Senate Democrats revealed that their objective was to delay the process indefinitely when they insisted that this “supplemental” investigation was insufficient because the Feds failed to follow up on some 4,500 “tips” submitted to federal investigators via a notoriously unreliable public hotline.
Katz, too, gave up the game when she appeared at the University of Baltimore’s Feminist Legal Theory Conference following Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him. And that is important,” she said of the new justice. “It is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.” If we take Blasey Ford’s own attorney at her word, she has admitted that her client’s political preferences were as much a motivating factor for coming forward as her alleged assault.
For simply protesting his innocence, Kavanaugh was besmirched as the “personification of white, male privilege.” His anger over this career-ending allegation was reframed as the self-entitled rage reserved for “privileged white men who are furious about being finally held to account” or “trauma for white men unaccustomed to trauma.” The substance of the claim against him was for many immaterial. His torment was a karmic comeuppance due to those who share his accidents of birth.
This history lesson is necessary, in part, because the left is busily reminding the nation that they subordinated any universally agreed-upon understanding of justice to their pursuit of a political scalp. Republicans have only invoked the mistreatment of their nominees to establish a favorable contrast. Their strategy is to observe as much decorum as possible to showcase the impropriety of their opponents. Republicans are fortunate that progressives in political media seem happy to oblige.