I was writing a new post about the charges leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when I learned that his accuser is requesting an FBI investigation of those charges before she testifies before the Judiciary Committee. I’ve put that post on hold, so I can write about the situation we now find ourselves in. My original post on the Kavanaugh-Ford matter can be found here. In the interest of clarity in what follows, I will refer to Kavanaugh as Judge Kavanaugh and to Ford as Dr. Blasey, by which name she is known professionally. In the incident described by Dr. Blasey, of course, she was simply Christine Blasey.Dr. Christine Blasey, through her lawyer, has requested that the FBI investigate her charges against Judge Kavanaugh before she offers testimony before the Senate. This is problematic. Dr. Blasey has agreed to testify, but committee chair Senator Chuck Grassley has scheduled testimony to be heard on September 24, five days from now, and he appears to view the date as non-negotiable. Not only does this leave insufficient time for an investigation, but the president and the FBI have rejected the investigation sought by Kavanaugh’s accuser.
The FBI asserts that it has added Dr. Blasey’s charges to its background file on Judge Kavanaugh and is not going to investigate what it construes to be a crime that is a state, rather than a federal, concern. This, of course, is nonsense. Government background checks do not merely collect rumors, but attempt to discover actual facts about the person being investigated. (Republicans no longer believe in facts. But I digress.) Adding a devastating charge to a background check without indicating if it is to be taken seriously is simply irresponsible.
President Trump has suggested that the Senate committee should investigate. This is reasonable in the abstract, but not in actuality. Such an investigation would be controlled by Republicans, who are not objective investigators. Moreover, the Judiciary Committee lacks both the resources and time to carry out such an investigation.
Why has Dr. Blasey made the request she has? This question is easy to answer. A hearing conducted now (or next Monday), absent more information than is now known, will simply become a he-said-she-said affair. There will be no objective means to determine who is telling the truth. Republicans will believe Judge Kavanaugh; Democrats will believe Dr. Blasey; and Judge Kavanaugh will likely become Justice Kavanaugh.
As I said in my earlier post, no one has a right to become a Supreme Court justice. The Judiciary Committee can use whatever criteria it chooses to decide Judge Kavanaugh’s fitness for office. The life tenure of Supreme Court justices should demand that the suitability of a particular candidate be established beyond a reasonable doubt, however. It should not be necessary that serious doubts about a candidate’s suitability be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
There is time for an investigation, preferably by a reasonably objective body such as the FBI. Perhaps there are witnesses who can establish that both Kavanaugh and Blasey attended the same party or that Blasey left unexpectedly and distraught. Perhaps there is evidence that would exonerate Kavanaugh. We won’t know unless we look into the matter. That should be done forthwith.
Note: An earlier version of this post asserted that the FBI has said that the Senate should investigate the charges against Judge Kavanaugh. It is the president, not the FBI, that has made this statement.