Blame Senate Republicans for nightmarish SCOTUS hearings
This isn’t about the truth. It’s not about due diligence or due process. It’s not about honesty or credibility or integrity. It’s not about who we believe and who we think is lying.
Republican senators have made it abundantly clear: This is about them not caring about women.
It was proved during the hearing on Thursday, Sept. 27. The Republicans initially chose Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor, to ask Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh actual investigative questions. In the middle of Kavanaugh’s testimony, though, that changed. One by one, Republican senators took over, instead using their time to apologize to Brett Kavanaugh for the “hell” he has been through.
Or at least that’s what Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called it during his five minutes to speak during Kavanaugh’s testimony. “This is not a job interview,” he said. “This is hell.” Kavanaugh’s testimony against allegations of sexual assault consisted of such painful, tormenting questions as “Are you willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the claims that have been made against you?” levied by Kamala Harris, (D-CA), “Was there ever a time when you drank so much that you couldn’t remember what happened … the night before?” asked by Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN), and “I wish you would join us in calling for an FBI investigation for one week” offered by Chris Coons (D-DE)
Despite all this questioning, the committee was really there to accomplish one thing, and one thing only: Republicans apologizing to Brett Kavanaugh.
It started with Senator Graham, who spent his minutes all but screaming about how a vote against Kavanaugh would be “legitimizing the most despicable thing” he’s ever seen in politics. He attacked Democrats, saying that “what [they] want to do is destroy this guy’s life” instead of acknowledging the seriousness of the accusations. People were seeing a partisan divide even before Graham started speaking up, but his behavior turned the hearings from a contentious debate into a farce.
Sure, a few Republicans occasionally ceded an apology to Dr. Ford as well, although it was mostly for the way Democrats were acting instead of for the trauma she says she lived through. They pointed to the long period of time between Ford reaching out to Senator Feinstein and Democrats bringing the allegation before the Judicial Committee. But that was an aside, a distraction from what they were really upset about: the horrible trauma of Kavanaugh possibly not getting everything he wants immediately without being questioned.
There’s a disgusting sense of entitlement about all this. The Republicans in the Senate are arguing that he didn’t do it, but that’s not their main point. If it were, they would all have been clamoring for an investigation, for real due process, for witnesses and evidence.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said that “if someone’s going to make that accusation … then they need to come forward with some corroboration,” but that’s what the FBI probe is meant to do. The Senate’s hearing didn’t look at other alleged witnesses, and an FBI investigation would be able to look deeper into the testimony of people like Mark Judge in order to confirm or reject the corroboration of Ford’s claims.
Instead of supporting the investigation to get closer to the truth, what the actions of the Republicans are saying is “how dare you.” How dare Democrats let their perception of Kavanaugh be affected by an accusation like this. How dare people acknowledge a possible history of sexual assault as in any way relevant. How dare we act like this matters.
They’re saying that, in their eyes, none of this — Ford’s testimony, her credibility, the accusation itself — none of it matters.
And that’s the thing. Women and the men who support them have been responding, yelling at Republican lawmakers and begging them to please, please believe women who come forward about things that even powerful and respected men have done to them in the past.
But it doesn’t matter whether or not they believe women. Many Senate Republicans members have said that they see Ford’s testimony as “credible.” And yet too many of them are still willing to vote to confirm Kavanaugh without a deeper investigation into the allegation. Of course, there are few exceptions — Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was the one who demanded the week-long investigation before he would vote to confirm the judge, although he did vote to move the confirmation hearings out of committee and to the floor — but if it hadn’t been for his single voice on the Republican side, nothing would have happened.
In the end, these Republican politicians, from the Senate to the White House, just don’t care. They don’t think sexual assault matters, so they don’t see the accusations as relevant to the hearings.
And they can mislead and lie as much as they want, but what that comes down to is that Republican lawmakers don’t care about women. Because if you don’t listen to what women are saying, you don’t think hurting women is a disqualification for one of the most powerful positions in our country and you’re so willing to trust a man that you’ll refuse to even look into what a woman told you: You don’t care about women.
Yes, the Senate Judiciary Committee finally asked for the FBI probe after Flake got scared when two protesters confronted him the day after the hearing. Did that probe affect the final vote? Hardly.
Their behavior during the hearings showed that they deeply do not see sexual assault as serious or disqualifying. So, what? What if the investigation revealed that Kavanaugh is guilty? What if it had uncovered some incontestable evidence that convinced everyone that he did sexually assault Ford in high school, therefore proving him guilty of not only sexual assault but also perjury? It’s not a conviction; he won’t be sentenced or held legally accountable unless Ford or the FBI take separate action. Chances are, he’ll sit on the court without controversy, just like Clarence Thomas before him.
All but a few known swing Republicans in the Senate made up their minds before the testimonies even began.
To them, Kavanaugh already isn’t a bad guy. He’s an athlete, a Christian. He got into Yale and Yale Law. He’s a man who deserves this, no matter what.
Graham said it himself: He believes that “the Supreme Court… is exactly where [Kavanaugh] should be.”
It’s not about what he did or didn’t do. It’s not about the truth.
It’s about who matters in our democracy and who apparently doesn’t.