Opinion: The day justice was forgotten in the nation’s capital
When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh finished their testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Sept. 27, the hearings left the American people with more questions than answers.
The Senate Judiciary Committee gave Ford an opportunity to present an accusation of sexual assault from more than 36 years ago when the two were in high school. Ford claims that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a social gathering during the summer of 1982. Kavanaugh then responded to the claims.
Democrats portray Ford as a victim of sexual assault. Republican senators say Kavanaugh is the victim of a politicized smear campaign.
The real victim in Thursday’s hearing, however, was justice. As facts were misinterpreted or ignored and senators sought to give opinions rather than ask questions, it became clear that political posturing, not fact-finding, was the goal on both sides.
During Ford’s testimony, most Democrats spoke directly to her, rather than ask questions about the incident. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Kamala Harris started by telling Ford, “I believe you.”
Republicans remained silent during Ford’s questioning, deferring to a female sex-crimes prosecutor they hired to ask questions. Besides the committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, no Republican senator interacted with Ford or thanked her for her testimony during their allotted time. The Republicans had planned to use the prosecutor to question Kavanaugh as well.
This strategy changed once Kavanaugh took the stand. Sen. Lindsey Graham led the Republicans in defending Kavanaugh and accusing Democrats of ruining him for their own political purposes.
“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life and hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020,” Graham told the Democrats. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”
Democrats used their time during Kavanaugh’s testimony to attack Republicans for not taking Ford’s allegations seriously and moving forward without a full FBI investigation. Sen. Dick Durbin asked Kavanaugh multiple times to call for an FBI investigation himself.
Republicans and Democrats seemed uninterested in discovering the truth. Instead, they looked to support their preconceived beliefs. Sen. Jeff Flake said before the hearing, “People will hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.”
By refusing to interact with Ford before defending Kavanaugh, Republicans proved to be less interested in considering her allegation and more interested in pointing to the political motivations of Democrats. By calling for an investigation to uncover the truth but telling Ford that they believed her, Democrats showed they didn’t need more facts before accepting her allegation as true.
Ford and Kavanaugh both seemed credible during their testimony. Ford said she was “100 percent certain” Kavanaugh was her attacker. Kavanaugh told the committee he was “100 percent certain” none of the accusations against him were true.
Neither story completely holds up. Ford mentioned three witnesses at the time of the incident, but none remember it happening. She was unable to say what day or at what house it happened.
Kavanaugh was aggressive and argumentative when addressing some of the Democrats’ questions. He said he never blacked out while drinking, but his freshman roommate, James Roche, described Kavanaugh on Twitter as “aggressive, belligerent, and incoherent” when he drank.
Several times, Kavanaugh became angry and defensive during questioning. Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh if he ever had memory gaps due to drinking. Kavanaugh replied, “I don’t know. Have you?” He later apologized for the response.
Only Ford and Kavanaugh know the truth of the allegations, and neither are backing down. In the next week, Kavanaugh will be confirmed or denied as a Justice to the Supreme Court. But for both Kavanaugh and Ford, justice left the building on Thursday.
Sen. Graham spoke to Kavanaugh during his questioning: “You’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time.”
The nation’s capital is no longer a place for victims of sexual assault to feel heard or for a Supreme Court nominee to receive a fair process.
During his reflection on the hearing, Sen. John Kennedy ended by quoting Matthew 16:26, which asks, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
The senators, regardless of ideology or allegiance, need to consider the image they have tainted and the lives they have damaged in their pursuit of