Because there’s still a lot America needs to know.
By The Editorial Board– The New York Times
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
“America’s about fairness,” Brett Kavanaugh said Monday night in an interview with Fox News. “I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name as quickly as I can.”
Surely there can be no question that America should be about fairness. Yet only a person accustomed to having things go his way in America would assume that it already is.
It’s a horrific unfairness, for example, that for generations, untold numbers of American girls and women have had their lives “derailed” by sexual abuse, to use the term of one of Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, while the boys and men who abused them — maturing, telling themselves they’ve set aside boyish ways, eliding, avoiding, forgetting — chugged along toward successful careers and public acclaim.
It would also be unfair if Judge Kavanaugh is innocent of such abuse, if he is a thoroughly honest and decent man, and yet is ultimately denied a seat on the Supreme Court because of the allegations against him.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is not a court of law, and the public can’t expect its members to reach an irrefutable conclusion about what happened. Yet it is now up to these senators, who have so far been putting political calculation well ahead of the interests of justice, to give a nation in tumult over these charges the demonstration of higher purpose and moral seriousness it so desperately needs. If Judge Kavanaugh’s name is, in the end, to be cleared, the only path is through a thorough and fair investigation of the allegations against him.
The committee’s 11 Republicans — all of them men — are still refusing to call for an independent investigation, or even to subpoena Mark Judge, Mr. Kavanaugh’s high-school friend and allegedly a witness to the sexual assault of Dr. Blasey. So it’s left to those who care about getting the full story to ask as many questions as possible. Here are a few for Judge Kavanaugh, drawn only from the allegations that have arisen in the weeks since his initial confirmation hearings. Perhaps the Republican senators can get the lawyer whom Mitch McConnell has called their “female assistant” to ask them.
- Dr. Blasey alleges that you sexually assaulted her in a locked room at a house party in the summer of 1982, when you were 17 and she was 15. She alleges that you were “stumbling drunk” and that she feared for her life. Could she be right about any of this?
- Dr. Blasey alleges that Mr. Judge was in the room with you and her on the night of the alleged attack. He has said he has “no recollection” of that incident, or of any similar behavior during that time. Elizabeth Rasor, Mr. Judge’s former girlfriend, disputes this. She said he “told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman” and that he “seemed to regard it as fully consensual.” Do you have any knowledge of an incident like the one she describes?
- Last week, Edward Whelan, a conservative activist who has been closely involved with the Supreme Court nominations by previous Republican presidents, spread a theory on Twitter that Dr. Blasey was telling the truth about being attacked, but that she was mistaken about the identity of her attacker, who he suggested might have been one of your classmates. Senator Orrin Hatch said previously that you had proposed a similar theory to him. Did you have any role in developing Mr. Whelan’s theory? Did you have advance knowledge about his plan to go public with it?
- A classmate of yours at Yale, Deborah Ramirez, has alleged that you exposed yourself to her at a drunken dormitory party, thrust your penis in her face and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed you away. Is any element of this true?
- James Roche, who was a college roommate of yours during the time of the alleged incident involving Ms. Ramirez, has said that you were “frequently, incoherently drunk” and that you became “aggressive and even belligerent” at these times. Could this be true?
- Your high-school yearbook page includes the phrase “100 Kegs or Bust.” Your friend Mr. Judge has described that as a pledge to drink 100 kegs of beer before graduation. Was that your understanding? If not, what did you mean by it?
- Mr. Judge has written extensively of his heavy drinking during those years. In his memoir about being a teenage alcoholic, he wrote that he “drank too much and did stupid things.” He added, “Most of the time everyone, including the girls, was drunk.” His yearbook page includes the quote, “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.” The memoir included a character, “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who drank so much that he threw up in a car and passed out. Was that you, and could he be correct in his description of those events?
- You told Fox News that you have “always treated women with dignity and respect.” Do you stand categorically by that statement?
- Your high-school yearbook page includes the phrase “Renate Alumnius.” A classmate of yours, Sean Hagan, explained that Renate was a girl at a nearby high school, and the reference to her by you and others on the school’s football team was meant as a boast of sexual conquest. Is that what you meant by the phrase? Do you believe this is treating women with dignity and respect?
- At Yale, you were a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which was reputed to disrespect women. One of your female classmates recalled that DKE brothers ransacked women’s rooms, stole their undergarments and wove them into a large flag. Years later, the fraternity was suspended from campus after a video showed recruits chanting, “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal.” Were you aware of any behavior like this? If so, do you believe it amounts to treating women with dignity and respect?
- Also at Yale, you belonged to an all-male secret society called Truth and Courage, which was known by the nickname “Tit and Clit.” Were you aware of this nickname? If so, do you believe it treats women with dignity and respect?
- More broadly, do you dispute the reputations of these groups? If you do not, did you ever feel uncomfortable about being involved with them, or raise any concerns with other members or leadership?
- One other matter: In your nationally televised acceptance of President Trump’s nomination of you to the Supreme Court, you said, “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” Would you provide the committee with the evidence for that assertion? And do you still stand by it?