Reason Roundup

Brett Kavanaugh Faces a New Accusation in The New York Times, but the Alleged Victim Didn't Confirm It

Plus: Andrew Yang opts out of cancel culture, Andrew Cuomo wants to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes, and more...


Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh faces another accusation of sexual misconduct. Details of the previously unreported incident appeared in The New York Times on Sunday. The article is adapted from a forthcoming book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly.

The essay concerns an allegation by Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh's at Yale, who previously told The New Yorker's Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow that "after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney," she recalled Kavanaugh drunkenly exposing himself to her at a dorm room party 35 years ago.

To bolster this account, Pogrebin and Kelly have produced an additional, similar accusation. During the Kavanaugh hearings, Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service and an attorney with a history of defending the Clintons, allegedly told the FBI that at Yale he saw Kavanaugh "with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student," according to the Times. In its original form, the article continued:

Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

Mr. Kavanaugh did not speak to us because we could not agree on terms for an interview. But he has denied Dr. Ford's and Ms. Ramirez's allegations, and declined to answer our questions about Mr. Stier's account.

The Times story was later amended to add a rather important missing detail: "the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode."

This missing information had been pointed out previously by Mollie Hemmingway and Carrie Severino, whose book Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court is favorable to Kavanaugh and critical of his accusers. Hemmingway and Severino obtained an advance copy of Pogrebin and Kelly's book, and they note that the book—unlike the original article—clarifies that the victim "refused to discuss the incident, though several of her friends said she does not recall it." The book also names the victim, presumably without her cooperation.

It is of course possible that The Education of Brett Kavanaugh presents stronger evidence against the justice, but publishing the article without noting the alleged victim's lack of confirmation does not inspire confidence. At the very least, the Times opened itself up to easy criticism.

In any case, the latest news has prompted calls from several Democratic presidential candidates for Kavanaugh to resign from the Supreme Court or face impeachment.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump called the allegations false.


Andrew Yang wants nothing to do with cancel culture, and he thinks society is becoming too punitive.

In an appearance on CNN Sunday morning, the Democratic presidential candidate elaborated on his comments about new Saturday Night Live cast member Shane Gillis, who recently offered a partial apology for making derogatory comments about Asian people during his comedy routines.

"I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that, if we can," said Yang. "Particularly in a case where the person is—in this case—a comedian whose words should be taken in a slightly different light."


Following President Trump's announcement that he intends to ban flavored e-cigarettes, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled that he intends to do the same.

New York would become the second state after Michigan to prohibit by executive fiat the sale of flavored e-cigarettes to adults. According to The New York Times,

Mr. Cuomo described a growing "health crisis," likening it to past illnesses related to traditional tobacco products.

"Vaping is dangerous. Period," the governor, a third-term Democrat, said, outlining a variety of potential health concerns associated with the practice, including encouraging nicotine addiction. "No one can say long-term use of vaping—where you're inhaling steam and chemicals deep into your lungs—is healthy."

I criticized vaping bans recently on Fox News, arguing that they could drive people to engage in riskier vaping with black-market products.


  • Actress Felicity Huffman will spend 14 days in jail over her involvement in a college admissions scam.
  • Racial justice activists DeRay Mckesson and Shaun King are having a very public feud over King's integrity (or, according to Mckesson, lack there of).
  • John Bolton's exit might lead to renewed dialogue with Latin American countries. Good!
  • Raise a glass to Ash Ketchum, preteen protagonist of the Pokemon cartoon, who finally won his first league championship. Ash had sought this title many times over the course of the last two decades, only to come up just shy of victory. Cheers, mate.