Published 7:01 PM EDT Sep 18, 2018
It’s fine for the Senate to drill down into the allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, but the hearing now scheduled for Monday will hardly accomplish anything. Even if Christine Blasey Ford testifies, what we’ll likely be left with is a she-said, he-denied that’ll put us no further than when this 11th-hour bombshell dropped.
Unlike Anita Hill’s case against Clarence Thomas, which arose out of a longtime working relationship, here the accuser can’t recall facts that are key to establishing her claim, while the accused has issued a categorical denial: not simply that he didn’t do it, but, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that he wasn’t even at a party like the one Ford described.
It’s certainly possible that, under oath, Kavanaugh will change his story, but this is exceedingly unlikely given that he chooses his words carefully and had time to ponder his statements.
OUR VIEW: Get to the bottom of allegation against Kavanaugh
Senators will have to proceed with the same information they have now, weighing the claim’s veracity against the politically suspect circumstances in which it arose. They’ll also have to consider Kavanaugh’s exemplary adult life, as attested to by copious character statements.
To be frank, few senators’ votes are likely to change. Susan Collins — the moderate Maine Republican whose vote is key — has already expressed frustration at the process by which the allegation came to light, with Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., discounting the allegation until pressed by colleagues last week.
Of course, the Democratic senators running in red states may seize on this issue as providing just enough political wiggle room to justify a no vote. We may thus see a completely party-line vote to seat a Supreme Court justice.
That would mark a further rift in our nation’s political fabric. Regardless, there can be no winners. After a presumptively inconclusive (if not pointless and circus-like) hearing, it will be time for the Senate to vote — and let the political chips fall where they may.
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.
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