The Irish Times view on the US supreme court: falling to new depths

Those Republican senators who still possess a moral compass must stand up

Charlotte Peterson of Woodbridge, Virginia demonstrates outside the US supreme court during a vigil in opposition to supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington on Wednesday. Photograph: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

Charlotte Peterson of Woodbridge, Virginia demonstrates outside the US supreme court during a vigil in opposition to supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington on Wednesday. Photograph: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

 

The suggestion by Chuck Grassley, chairman of the US Senate judiciary committee, that the supplemental FBI investigation into supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has found “no hint of misconduct” signals that the Trump White House intends to proceed with the judge’s nomination. That’s bad news for the the supreme court, Congress and American society at large.

The FBI was asked to investigate last week after testimony given to the committee by Christine Blasey Ford, a university lecturer who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982, when they were teenagers. Two other women have also made allegations about Kavanaugh’s past conduct. Kavanaugh has strenuously denied all the allegations against him.

Attention has focused on Blasey Ford’s claims, which she outlined in a poised and consistent account to the committee last week. The Republican majority on the committee has argued the truth of the disputed incident cannot be established, and that Kavanaugh’s guilt has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

That may be true, but it’s also to miss the point. The current debate is not about Kavanaugh’s legal responsibility. For a man who is about to be appointed to a lifelong post on America’s most powerful court, the standard is higher than the legal presumption of innocence. Moreover, misgivings about his nomination are as much about his response to those allegations as the allegations themselves.

In his appearance before the committee last week, Kavanaugh disqualified himself. His bitterly partisan diatribes, his uncontrolled aggression, his inability to keep his anger in check all suggested a total absence of judicial temperament. For the Republican Party to persist with his confirmation, knowing the signal it sends to wider society, and to women in particular, is a sign of the depths to which the party has fallen. Kavanaugh should withdraw his name. If he does not, those Republican senators who still possess a moral compass must stand up.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.