U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Thursday, September 27, 2018
By the time you read this, it might already be too late. Brett Kavanaugh will be on his way to becoming the next Supreme Court justice. There’s a lot we don’t know about Kavanaugh, but one thing is certain: He is no Atticus Finch.
Atticus Finch is the courageous lawyer and heroically decent father figure who stood up for the rule of law in the pages of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the best-selling book that came out in 1961 as white Americans were waking up to a civil rights movement. The beneficiary of white male privilege, Kavanaugh was born four years after the book’s release. Based on the totality of anecdotal accounts now seeping out, it seems he never got around to reading it.
We’ll never know for sure whether Kavanaugh is guilty of attempted rape as a drunken 17-year-old lout — as alleged by Christine Blasey Ford — or of outright sexual assault as an aggressive and belligerent drunk 18-year-old adult — as alleged by his Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez. And now a third woman has come forward. These are criminal questions for which the statute of limitations long ago expired.
In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican party leadership have moved heaven and earth to ensure nothing resembling a trial ever takes place. To call what they propose a kangaroo court would defame kangaroos. Certainly, this week’s proceedings pale in contrast to the so-called confirmation hearings held in 1991, when Anita Hill found herself pilloried as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” for detailing Clarence Thomas’s pornographically explicit reveries about what his “Long Dong Silver” could do. At that time, the Hill hearings seemed an egregious miscarriage of justice; the decision was made by the all-male committee to call none of the witnesses who might have been able to corroborate Hill’s testimony. And they certainly existed.
Compared to what’s about to happen now, the Hill proceedings set the gold standard for judicial integrity. When Hill’s allegations surfaced, the FBI immediately was called in to investigate. Not so with Ford. Not so with Ramirez. And not so with Mark Judge — Kavanaugh’s former classmate and drinking buddy at Georgetown Prep who has since hobbled together a semi-journalistic career writing about having been a blackout drunk. No independent investigation has been conducted. Neither Judge nor Ramirez will be called to testify.
The lesson Republicans learned from Hill was to avoid the bad optics that arise when a roomful of hostile men interrogates a woman about sex crimes that they don’t want to believe occurred but don’t really care if they did. Accordingly, they hired what McConnell indelicately referred to as a “female assistant” — an Arizona prosecuting attorney who specializes in sex crimes — to question Ford. By reputation, this “female assistant” is an accomplished prosecutor and serious person. She will, however, have been given next to no time to prepare. Likewise, she will be given next to no time to ask her questions: just 55 minutes. That’s still more than the 50 minutes committee leadership has afforded Democrats on the panel. McConnell — never evidently troubled by any sense of shame — has vowed to “plow on through” with the vote by Friday.
Thus, we’re left with an exceptionally grim picture of the young Kavanaugh as an out-of-control binge drinker and mean drunk who embraced jock-frat-culture misogyny with both hands and his pants down around his ankles. There was his membership at Yale in the pseudo secret society Truth and Courage, better known as “Tits and Clits.” In 2011, Yale administrators would suspend this “club” for five years after videos surfaced showing members chanting, “No means yes and yes means anal.” He belonged to a fraternity whose members paraded around campus carrying flags made of women’s underwear. Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook page contained not-so-subliminal boasts of having had sex with a specific young girl from a nearby Catholic school, as did the yearbook pages of 12 of his fellow football team members. Maybe you could write all this off to boys being boys, excepting, of course, that just this year, Judge Kavanaugh did everything in his power to delay a 17-year-old Central American refugee from getting an abortion. If Kavanaugh was insistent that she pay for a youthful error in judgement, shouldn’t he be held to the same standard?
There’s little evidence that in the ensuing years the tiger has changed its stripes. Kavanaugh would later clerk for Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, who was just forced to “retire” last year after allegations surfaced that he forced women employees to watch porn on his computer and then asked if they found it arousing. Kozinski was infamous for the porn-infused “Easy Rider” gag email chains he sent far and wide. When Kavanaugh was nominated to the Circuit Court bench, Kozinski was leadoff hitter testifying on his behalf. Kozinski’s son worked for Kavanaugh. So when Kavanaugh denies any knowledge of Kozinski’s well-known predilections — he claims to have been “gut-punched” by the revelations — it has no credibility.
Kavanaugh was interviewed at length this week on Fox News with his wife by his side. It was weird. He was a good man, he stressed. He never raped or sexually assaulted anyone. He was still a virgin at the time. He wanted a fair process and to clear his name. Had it been Atticus Finch, he would have insisted the FBI conduct a thorough investigation. Kavanaugh had to be asked. He ducked.
Like Kavanaugh, I am the product of a Catholic school education. Accordingly, I believe in Hail Mary passes. Translated, that means anything can theoretically still happen, though in all probability, it won’t. Like I said, Brett Kavanaugh is no Atticus Finch.