The Kavanaugh Stakes – WSJ 9/29/18, 2(19 PM
OPINION | POTOMAC WATCH
The Kavanaugh Stakes
A vote against the judge is a vote for ambush tactics and against due process.
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Sept. 27, 2018 6:47 p.m. ET
Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 5. PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
The Ford-Kavanaugh hearing consumed most of Thursday, and unsurprisingly we learned nothing from the spectacle. Christine Ford remains unable to marshal any evidence for her claim of a sexual assault. Brett Kavanaugh continues to deny the charge adamantly and categorically, and with persuasive emotion.
Something enormous nonetheless has shifted over the past weeks of political ambushes, ugly threats and gonzo gang-rape claims. In a Monday interview, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski noted: “We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified.” Truer words were never spoken. Republicans are now voting on something very different and monumental—and they need to be clear on the stakes.
To vote against Judge Kavanaugh is to reject his certain, clear and unequivocal denial that this event ever happened. The logical implication of a “no” vote is that a man with a flawless record of public service lied not only to the public but to his wife, his children and his community. Any Republican who votes against Judge Kavanaugh is implying that he committed perjury in front of the Senate, and should resign or be impeached from his current judicial position, if not charged criminally. As Sen. Lindsey Graham said: “If you vote ‘no,’ you are legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”
The stakes go beyond Judge Kavanaugh. A “no” vote now equals public approval of every underhanded tactic deployed by the left in recent weeks. It’s a green light to send coat hangers and rape threats to Sen. Susan Collins and her staff. It is a sanction to the mob that drove Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife out of a restaurant. It is an endorsement of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who kept the charge secret for weeks until she could use it to ambush the nominee with last-minute, unverified claims. It’s approval of the release of confidential committee material (hello, Spartacus), the overthrow of regular Senate order, and Twitter rule. It’s authorization for a now thoroughly unprofessional press corps to continue crafting stories that rest on anonymous accusers and that twist innuendo into gang rapes. A vote against Brett Kavanaugh is a vote for Michael Avenatti. No senator can hide from this reality. There is no muddy middle.
The stakes go even further, to the core of this country’s principles. To vote against Judge Kavanaugh now is to overthrow due process. Contrary to Democrats’ claims, due process is not constrained to courts of law; it is central to employee discipline, professional standards of conduct, even evictions of tenants. It is owed to any individual in a civilized body politic. Under due process, the accuser has the burden of proof. Ms. Ford has not met the evidentiary standard even of a civil proceeding, the preponderance of evidence—yet this case is more significant than any that has been dealt with in a court of law for ages. How the Senate votes now will reverberate to all levels of society. A “no” vote on Judge Kavanaugh is an authorization to renew calls for a Justice Clarence Thomas to step down. It is an authorization to derail the life of any white-collar manager or blue-collar crew boss who is ever subject to a single uncorroborated allegation.
And this is to say nothing of the federal judiciary. Democrats know that if Judge Kavanaugh goes down, Republicans will have no time to install a replacement before the midterm elections. The ultimate goal is to take over the Senate come November and keep the high court at a 4-4 deadlock until 2020, when they hope to regain the presidency, and then sway the balance of the court for a generation.
Extremely few cases come before the Supreme Court, and by definition each is monumentally important—on labor law, tort issues, environmental policy. A “no” vote on Judge Kavanaugh risks a three-year high-court impasse, which would put the circuit courts in disjointed control of national policy. If you are Lisa Murkowski or Jeff Flake, a “no” vote on Mr. Kavanaugh means putting the craziest of these circuits, the Ninth Circuit, in control of legal questions involving your state’s development and well-being.
Republican senators didn’t ask for this monumental choice—fair enough. Those demanding Ms. Ford be heard simply wanted a fair process. That has happened; she has been given every courtesy and then some. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has worked with steadfast professionalism to investigate the claims of every other so- called accuser—despite crazy accusations, runarounds, delays, threats and obstruction. His committee majority has done its job.
It’s Democrats who have pushed the nation to the brink. This is no longer about one unvetted accusation, or who looks more “credible,” or discrete political calculations. Republicans need to understand that their voters know this goes beyond the question of one man and a Supreme Court seat. It goes to basic principles.
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Appeared in the September 28, 2018, print edition.
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