I Believe Her: No On Kavanaugh | Sojourners

I Believe Her: No On Kavanaugh

Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Sept. 27, 2018. Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS

We are in the midst of a national trauma, with a vast number of women in America — across political lines — being re-traumatized by the events of last week. This moment requires pastoral care for survivors and those who love them, prophetic truth-telling about what is (or ought to be) morally acceptable and unacceptable, and the hope for some more profiles in courage in the United States Senate.

Given what we already know, and what we heard last week both from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the nominee, Brett Kavanaugh must not be elevated to the Supreme Court. I am concerned with much of Kavanaugh’s judicial record, including his opinions questioning whether a sitting president can be the subject of a criminal investigation, but my opposition is much deeper than that. I believe that presidents who win elections have the right to nominate judges of their choice to the Supreme Court, with the Senate’s advice and consent — and the Democrats lost the 2016 election. But there is much more at stake now than in a normal process. Last week’s hearing put into stark relief three major reasons why Kavanaugh should be disqualified:

  1. I believe Dr. Blasey Ford’s compelling and courageous testimony was credible. Her 100 percent certainty that Judge Kavanaugh was the person who assaulted her was believable on the basis of her testimony, and is backed up by what we know about neuroscience, memory, and trauma. Dr. Ford displayed clarity, courage, and vulnerability in coming forward, in being willing to testify under oath before the Senate and the world, amid a hearing format and political climate that was transparently designed to appear to take her allegations seriously but avoid the wider investigation that might corroborate (or contradict) her allegations. Dr. Ford was always fully in favor of an independent FBI investigation (and steadfastly asked for one) while Judge Kavanaugh did not and avoided questions from senators as to why he would not desire such an investigation to question both sides and potentially clear his name. It’s also notable that while Dr. Ford took and passed a polygraph test, Judge Kavanaugh has not. Ultimately, it is impossible to believe both parties, because their testimonies are completely contradictory. The reality is that we either believe Dr. Ford or we don’t. I believe her.
  2. Kavanaugh’s angry partisanship, even in the face of what he claims (and perhaps even believes) are false allegations, belies the notion that he could be impartial in matters before the Court. Being a political conservative is one thing, but seeking to discredit the accusations against him by labeling them as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit” motivated by “apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and/or “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” funded by “millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups” not only dismisses the agency and integrity of survivors like Dr. Ford, but exposes the historic partisanship that is more consistent with Kavanaugh’s tenure on the Starr investigation, Florida recount, and Bush’s White House than his more recent history as a Circuit of Appeals judge. The fact that Kavanaugh even went so far as to tell the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee that “what goes around comes around” should be disqualifying for someone seeking a lifetime appointment as an impartial and honest arbiter of the law and the Constitution. As others have said, a passionate self-defense of one’s name and family is, indeed, one thing, which many felt understandable; but Kavanaugh’s move to ugly partisanship — which must be said is too often demonstrable on both sides of the political aisle — crossed a line and does not reveal the proper temperament for a Supreme Court justice.
  3. Kavanaugh’s casual relationship with the truth, which he displayed periodically throughout the confirmation process is also a problem. As scrutiny on his past and personal life intensified since Dr. Ford’s allegation of sexual assault, Kavanaugh spent last Thursday’s hearing giving (if we’re being charitable) highly dubious explanations to questions asked about his drinking habits as a young man and various obvious references to drinking and sex in his high school yearbook. His desire to avoid opening himself to the allegation that he may have committed the assault on Dr. Ford while drunk to the point of memory loss is understandable, but not convincing. Whether Kavanaugh’s complete denials of any accusations of sexual assault or related heaving drinking were bald-faced lies or the result of memory loss from drinking — or something in between — may never be fully known. However, being a judge seeking a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, not to mention being under oath before the Senate, all require telling the unvarnished truth about one’s past, even when doing so might be personally embarrassing or politically inconvenient to one’s prospects for confirmation.

This week, it is time for people of faith and moral principle to raise their voices to their senators, calling for the truth and rejecting Kavanaugh’s nomination unless the FBI investigation definitively confirms Kavanaugh’s testimony. This is a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, and we dare not fail this test of our national, moral, and religious character. It is imperative that Senate offices receive a flood of phone calls and in district meetings in order to show the depth and breadth of moral opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation this week. It only takes a few minutes from your day. Dial 202 224-3121 and ask to speak to each of your senators. Below is a brief script you can use and adapt for your calls.

  • My name is ______ and I’m a constituent of Senator _____. I’m calling to express my deep concern and strong opposition to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • Judge Kavanaugh’s angry partisanship and temperament and willingness to obfuscate the truth make him unfit to serve a life-time appointment to the Supreme Court.
  • I ask that Senator ____ listen to the very credible testimony of Dr. Ford. I believe her, and I believe the Senator must therefore vote no on Judge Kavanaugh.