September 25, 2018

New Allegations Against Kavanaugh

On Sunday, the New Yorker reported that “Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh… Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s, has described a dormitory party gone awry and a drunken incident that she wants the F.B.I. to investigate.” New Yorker

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and an interview with Fox News, Kavanaugh denied accusations of sexual misconduct and stated that he “will not be intimidated into withdrawing.” Fox News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is calling for an investigation into the allegations to determine their credibility, arguing that “proof beyond a reasonable doubt" needn't exist for a Supreme Court nominee to not be confirmed. They also credit the #MeToo movement for progress toward making women’s voices heard.

“Over the period that the White House and Judiciary Committee majority have been jousting over the terms and conditions of the public hearing, the FBI could have already done much of what needs to be done — such as conducting some if not all of the interviews of the individuals identified as potential eyewitnesses."

The Atlantic

“In this case, ‘believe women’ just means taking the claim seriously. ‘Believe women’ means not reflexively disbelieving them because you're eager for a vote and an investigation would be inconvenient. ‘Believe women’ means acknowledging how shockingly, terribly normal it is for women and men to be sexually assaulted, and how shockingly, terribly normal it is for men to be the ones sexually assaulting them."


No one is entitled to a seat on the Supreme Court. It’s certainly reasonable to investigate Ford’s account; she herself has called for such an investigation. But that doesn’t mean that if she can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kavanaugh assaulted her, the American people owe him a lifetime job deciding some of the country’s most difficult and consequential cases, including those that affect women’s right to make decisions about their bodies."


Don’t tell me that Democrats will just smear the next candidate because they supposedly always do... no such charges surfaced against Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts or Samuel Alito... Nor have there been any against Donald Trump’s nominees for circuit court positions, or... against any of Trump’s cabinet officials... there’s no reason to believe that if Republicans sink this nomination that Democrats will respond with smears of other Republicans."


Regarding the #MeToo movement, “Before Ramirez came forward, Kavanaugh’s defenders all made a similar calculation: Either a powerful man with a wholesome public face (he coached girls’ basketball!) was lying or a woman was. And all of those defenders chose to discount the woman...

In cases of sexual misconduct, a lone woman’s voice often isn’t given the same weight as a man’s. But Ramirez’s account is a reminder of how far the #MeToo movement has come: When a woman stands up to report misconduct, she rarely stands alone for long. The movement has not yet overcome our society’s tendency to dismiss a single woman’s voice. But it has multiplied women’s voices until they can no longer be ignored.”


“Conservatives and liberals may differ on what constitutes that standard of proof. But that’s much better than differing on what constitutes acceptable sexual behavior. And it’s infinitely better than treating all women as liars. Even if Kavanaugh is confirmed, we should rest assured that the #MeToo movement has made a difference, however much work remains."

Washington Post

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right argues that Kavanaugh should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are skeptical of the new allegations, suggesting that lowering the burden of proof will cause a backlash against the #MeToo movement.

From the Right

The right argues that Kavanaugh should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are skeptical of the new allegations, suggesting that lowering the burden of proof will cause a backlash against the #MeToo movement.

“Charges against public figures do have to meet some kind of burden of proof, even if far short of that required in a criminal trial... The problem isn’t that women are in general likely to lie about matters like rape or sexual assault—they aren’t. At issue is the fact that low evidentiary standards as a matter of principle inevitably lead to bad outcomes for the innocent."

The American Conservative

“Maybe the next few days will bring some new information, but for now, Democrats are dedicated to trying to stop the Kavanaugh nomination on the basis of a charge without verification...

Ford's supporters... think a credible allegation is enough to disqualify Kavanaugh. And even if that allegation is not, in fact, true -- even if Kavanaugh is innocent -- he is still disqualified. In the current battle, Kavanaugh's opposition is... trying to create an environment in which there is no way he can win.”

Washington Examiner

Many are questioning the journalistic standards of the New Yorker article.

“Presumably out of a shared belief that the sacrament of abortion might be threatened by a second Trump nominee serving on the court, some in the media are running multiple stories based on reputation-destroying allegations that have not come close to meeting a journalistic standard.”

The Federalist

Six classmates who Ramirez said would be able to substantiate her story, one of them her college best friend, have categorically denied, to Farrow and Mayer, that any such incident took place... This is not journalism. This is a bizarre political stage show where the actors are all working toward the same curtain call."

Fox News

“It’s important to reiterate the substantial differences between the claims against Kavanaugh and the claims against virtually any other politician or celebrity brought low in this Me Too moment. Whether you’re looking at Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, or Al Franken, you’ll find substantial evidence beyond the word of the accusers, including contemporaneous corroboration and on occasion even physical evidence...

“[By contrast] there is not a single third-party witness to any claim that can corroborate any accuser or even conclusively place Kavanaugh at the location of any alleged crime... The available evidence simply doesn’t meet any conceivable burden of proof.”

National Review

“The Me Too movement has gained immense influence over the last year precisely because it has encouraged us to acknowledge the reality of sexual abuse and follow the truth wherever it leads. Now, the question of whether the accusations against Kavanaugh are true has been subjugated to a political endgame... All of this will add up to the average person, who naturally wants justice for survivors, being less inclined to take sexual-abuse allegations seriously."

National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Noteworthy datapoint

The biggest divide on issues like the Kavanaugh case is not between men and women, but between Democrats and Republicans.


A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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