I hate the Kavanaugh confirmation process.
Supreme Court Justices are some of the most influential people in the country, and a relatively young guy like Brett Kavanaugh will affect the course of things in this country for decades to do come. But despite thousands of news stories, I have very little idea what he’s likely to do if he gets on the Supreme Court.
From the little I can gather from sources I trust,
- He’s a vanilla standard conservative nominee, not some kind of far-right radical.
- He’s pretty good on free speech issues.
- He sucks when it comes to the rights of the accused.
- I like that he appears to want to narrow Chevron deference.
I’ll probably dislike a lot of his rulings, but no more than I would almost anybody else likely to be nominated.
But we’re not talking about any of that right now. Instead, there’s this enormous public debate over Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior toward women when he was in high school and early college. The accusations started with holding a girl down and grinding against her at a high school party, with a relatively strong witness for something that happened so long ago. The next accusation escalated to waving his dick around near some woman’s face, but even the woman involved admits her memory is sketchy.
Then publicity hound Michael Avenatti popped up with a client who claimed that Kavenaugh participated in multiple gang rapes, with guys at parties lined up outside rooms where they could rape drugged women. And now I’m hearing something about two guys assaulting a woman on a boat, and some guy has come forward to say that he, not Kavanaugh, attacked the first woman, and then another guy has come forward also claiming that he was the real attacker…and then there’s something about devil’s triangles and “boofing” that my long experience on the internet tells me I should *not* try to look up…
At this point I’ve kind of given up on following the whole mess. So many people on both sides have exhibited what Reason‘s Robby Soave’s called “shameful certainty“:
A lot of people nevertheless seem completely convinced, one way or the other. Quite coincidentally, their conviction that Kavanaugh has been slandered, or that Kavanaugh is a sexual predator, seems to line up perfectly with whether they oppose or support Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. If you like the guy, you know he’s innocent, or that it doesn’t matter. If you fear he will provide a decisive vote against abortion rights, you know he’s guilty. Fence sitters are betraying women everywhere, according to the left, or are letting the Democrats pull off a con, according to the right.
It’s frustrating that so many people are beholden to their partisan convictions and blithely insistent that they know whether Kavanaugh is innocent. That may be something not even Kavanaugh knows, since he may have been blackout drunk at the time of the alleged incident. It’s frustrating that so many progressives would believe the accusation automatically, no matter how distant or unverifiable it may be. And it’s frustrating that so many conservatives think protecting Kavanaugh and elevating him to the Supreme Court is so important that it’s worth forgiving serious wrongdoing in just this one case.
I’ve seen so many Tweets from the left arguing that Kavanaugh supporters want an anti-abortion rapist on the court because it’s a war on women, and so many from the right arguing that each new accusation shows how unscrupulous the left is in protecting their right to murder unborn babies. I’m sure there are people approaching this issue with an understanding of nuance, contingent reasoning, and a willingness to allow for evidence that does not support their political goals, but they are being drowned out by the noise.
The Republicans are pretty much still in control of this, and they still have the votes. So unless something comes out about Kavanaugh that is (1) clearly true, (2) bad, and (3) new, the chances of him ending up on the Supreme Court are almost as good as the chance that Black Panther will be feeling a lot better by the end of the next Avengers movie. But in either case, we’re going to have to sit through a big loud fight.