Reason Roundup

Republican Senators to Plow Ahead With Kavanaugh Vote: Reason Roundup

Plus: Giving cops the finger is protected speech and Elon Musk is under fire from the SEC.



Republican senators say a judiciary committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation will go forward Friday morning. This comes after a full day of Thursday hearings about Christine Blasey Ford's accusation that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge attempted to sexually assault her in high school. In the wake of those hearings, Americans and their political mouthpieces are hardly showing any more solidarity on the matter.

Predictably, most prominent Republicans came away after watching the testimony with a professed unwavering faith in Kavanaugh's innocence and his suitability for a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court. But—in a politically sound but preposterous twist—Republican leadership and spokespeople are also professing to believe Ford's story about her assault, with one caveat: She must be misremembering the person(s) who did it.

By this morning, White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway was spouting this mistaken-identity mumbo-jumbo on CBS This Morning. The editors of National Review repeated some variation on it.

It's Kavanaugh's own testimony that probably did him the most damage. Alternately shouting, snarky, and crying, Kavanaugh frequently resorted to sounding off his high-school résumé when confronted with uncomfortable questions. Interestingly, the questions that appeared to make Kavanaugh most uncomfortable weren't about Ford or the alleged assault but his high-school friend (and alleged partner in sex crimes) Mark Judge, his high-school yearbook captions, and whether he consumed alcohol as a student at Georgetown Preparatory School and Yale University.

Even for folks who claim that Ford is a Democratic operative or that Kavanaugh's underage conduct is irrelevant to his current character, this poses a problem: Kavanaugh's current character seems to be that of someone who's lying about a lot of (often petty) things.

And then there was Kavanaugh accusing the Clintons—whose own sexual misconduct issues he helped litigate in the 1990s—of being linked to a conspiracy against him:

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

Kavanaugh has "all but abandoned the posture of impartiality demanded of a judge," suggests Jonathan Chait at New York, who writes that yesterday's hearings convinced him Kavanaugh is guilty.

"The 'Well, they both seemed credible' line requires a frankly heroic willing suspension of disbelief given Kavanaugh's frequent and rather brazen dissembling," tweeted Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute. "If you thought he was credible, you have to be trying to convince yourself."

"The process itself was disgusting," comments Glenn Greenwald on Twitter. "Feinstein deserves all kinds of blame. Democrats' real motive was obviously delay past the election (just like GOP did with Garland). Due process matters. All that's true. But Kavanaugh clearly (& repeatedly) lied & Ford did not. That matters."

Now, senators grilling Supreme Court nominees about the definition of "devil's triangle" and "boofing," whether they ever whipped out their genitals during a dorm party, and the true meaning of "Beach Week Ralph Club"…let's just say it's not among America's proudest moments.

Yet Kavanaugh's demeanor during these lines of questioning—even if understandable should he really be innocent—was highly off-putting to a lot of nonpartisan or even supportive people. His alternately boastful and simpering rage might be how a lot of us would react. But perhaps from a legal decision maker on the highest court in the land, it's not too much to want and ask for better.

In any event, some former backers of Kavanaugh did change their tunes following the testimonies. The American Bar Association said Kavanaugh should not be confirmed until an FBI investigation is completed. And from the Jesuit magazine America:

Evaluating the credibility of these competing accounts is a question about which people of good will can and do disagree. The editors of this review have no special insight into who is telling the truth. If Dr. Blasey's allegation is true, the assault and Judge Kavanaugh's denial of it mean that he should not be seated on the U.S. Supreme Court. But even if the credibility of the allegation has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt and even if further investigation is warranted to determine its validity or clear Judge Kavanaugh's name, we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country. While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn.




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