I’m already on the record that I consider Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, a dreadful candidate. He’s been picked because he’s a reliable right-wing voter who apparently has zero respect for women’s control of their bodies (he ruled the state could impose abortions on two mentally handicapped women who didn’t want abortions).
And now a woman, Christine Ford, has gone public with charges he attempted to rape her back at a high school party (she has discussed it years earlier) To which the Republican response has been outrage, at Ford and at Dems, for scheming to stop Kavanaugh. How dare they! Along with “he didn’t do it!” and “you can’t prove he did it!” I’ve seen arguments that even if Ford’s telling the truth, what Kavanaugh did at 17 is completely irrelevant to who they are now; that we shouldn’t punish him for a teenage error; assault is just teenage horseplay; that this is a “witch hunt”; and that if they can destroy Kavanaugh this way, all men are vulnerable!
All of which leads Scott Lemieux, among others, to wonder why the GOP still supports him. The Republicans have stuffed the federal judiciary with right-wingers so finding someone with the same right-wing views and paper credentials shouldn’t be hard. True, he favors insulating Trump from legal charges, but he can’t do that without a majority of the court on board. And as noted at the link, it’s unlikely the Dems will be able to block a new nominee, even if they take the Senate in the mid-terms. So why not look for someone who doesn’t have any allegations of sexual assault against them?
Well, Trump already has a history of supporting men with a history of spousal abuse. I doubt he’d have an issue appointing a rapist to the Supreme Court, but I’m sure he resents liberals telling him no or suggesting that a man doesn’t have the right to do anything he pleases with women. For some on the right, the charge may give the nomination more spice: take that feminazis! A nastier version of owning the liberals. White House sources say it slightly differently: giving in would ruin Trump’s image as the guy crushing his adversaries.
As for the specific arguments I mentioned, well they don’t hold water either. “He was 17” is a fair argument if he was misbehaving but assault is something else again. It’s not harmless teenage mischief (as Caitlin Flanagan points out), any more than Trump bragging about harassing women was just locker-room talk. As Lance Mannion says, the real question is, should someone who committed a violent crime be on the Supreme Court? “He was 17” assumes the answer is yes; it shouldn’t be. We’re not talking about jailing him based on Ford’s letter, but whether he should sit on the country’s highest court.
I can’t help wondering if some of the men dismissing Ford are thinking back to their own teen (or adult) years and assuring themselves this is bullshit: they did stuff like that, they’re obviously not rapists, so what he did must have been okay! Rough horseplay, that’s the word!
As for being a witch hunt, how? A charge has been made. It’s being investigated. Nobody’s suggesting removing Kavanaugh from his current lifetime gig as a federal judge. And I’ll bet very few of the “witch hunt” screamers are as vocal about the charges Hilary Clinton is leader of a vast ring of pedophile Satanist cannibals, which comes a lot closer to being a literal witch hunt (and as the Pizzagate incident shows, one that could potentially lead to violence).
I doubt this will derail Kavanaugh, but Ill be delighted if it does.
PS. Bonus note: After Ford’s charge hit the news, the Republicans presented a list of women who supported Kavanaugh. Most of whom now take it back And Kavanaugh’s buddy and character witness Mark Judge isn’t exactly known for his supportive views of women. More examples here. And here (including blaming rape on the way women dress)