The U.S. Senate should refuse to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday. There are other well-qualified judges with impeccable credentials, conservative leanings and unquestioned independence who would be welcome on the court. Kavanaugh is irreparably damaged by allegations of sexual assault that have not been satisfactorily investigated, and his combative, partisan defense indicates he does not have the necessary judicial temperament.
The results of the days-long FBI investigation of the allegations of assault by Christine Blasey Ford and others have been characterized by Republican senators as satisfactory and by Democratic senators as inadequate. That FBI report should be made public so Americans can reach their own conclusions. But the swiftness of the FBI’s review and the failure to interview Kavanaugh, Ford and key witnesses suggest this was less than a thorough vetting.
The concerns about Kavanaugh extend beyond the sexual assault allegations and the secrecy of the investigation. The judge’s angry, partisan performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 27 raise serious doubts about his ability to be an impartial justice. He described the confirmation process as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.’’ He railed about “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.’’ He was sarcastic, disrespectful and condescending.
Even Kavanaugh recognizes his performance raised new concerns. In an unusual column in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, he acknowledged, “I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.’’ It’s too late to rewrite the record.
There are no winners in this deeply disturbing confirmation process that has further divided the nation and exposed some of the worst impulses on both sides. Democratic senators should have brought forth the allegations against Kavanaugh much sooner. Republican senators, particularly Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, are uninterested in the truth and angry that their judgment is challenged. They also are stunningly dismissive to women who believe Kavanaugh’s accusers or have been sexually assaulted themselves. Then there’s President Donald Trump, who mocked Ford during a rally this week and was applauded by his supporters.
Kavanaugh would not have been our choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was often the court’s swing vote. But his conservative philosophy is not the issue here. There are plenty of other conservative judges who are well-qualified to sit on the nation’s highest court.
Urging the Senate on Friday to confirm Kavanaugh, McConnell declared, “We know the nation deserves better than this.’’ Yes, it does. The credibility and independence of the Supreme Court is at stake. When the vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh comes up Saturday, senators should vote “No.’’