Staff Editorial

Allegations aside, Kavanaugh unfit for U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2018. (Melina Mara/Pool via Reuters)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2018. (Melina Mara/Pool via Reuters)

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, have the latest FBI-produced documents on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Not that it should matter. Further review isn’t necessary to conclude Kavanaugh is unfit for a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court.

Questions of past booze-soaked sexual misconduct no longer are the tipping point of this nomination. Kavanaugh’s belligerent and aggressive performance before the committee last week should seal his fate.

The partisan screed, which Kavanaugh proudly noted he had written for himself, took aim at Democrats and the very process used to select members of the judiciary.

The behavior of Democrats, he said, was “an embarrassment” and “a good old-fashioned attempt at ‘Borking.’ ” Those serving on the committee were “lying in wait” with “false, last-minute smears.”

The process? According to Kavanaugh the proceedings were “a national disgrace,” “a circus” and a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination.” It was all merely a “search and destroy” mission, he said, “to blow me up and take me down.”

Allegations of sexual assault, first spoken in 2012, were somehow linked to the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump, or maybe a payback scheme launched years ago by the Clintons, if we are to believe Kavanaugh’s assessment.

The man who had previously advocated judicial modesty before the Senate, who appeared on Fox News to speak about fairness, dignity and respect within the court system, no longer was present. In his place sat a man who vowed revenge, saying “what comes around goes around” — a partisan pledge that not only stains the Supreme Court but would, at any other moment in history, call into question Kavanaugh’s current appointment to the circuit court.

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Ironically, in Bill Clinton fashion, Kavanaugh lied under oath. He said he could legally drink during his senior year at Georgetown Prep, the Catholic all-boys school he attended in Maryland. He couldn’t. He claimed no previous connection to Yale University, where he attended college and law school, but his grandfather is an alumnus.

These are not “he said, she said” allegations that require nuanced consideration, but simple facts. If Kavanaugh is willing to lie about such small things under oath in an attempt to bolster his reputation, is it unreasonable to believe he would lie about other things?

Nonetheless, Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pledged to forge on. A procedural vote was scheduled for today long before FBI documents were complete, setting the stage for a final Senate vote as early as Saturday.

Iowa’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, Grassley and Joni Ernst, have indicated they will support this nomination. We urge them to reconsider. Hyperpartisanship has infected nearly all aspects of government, further dividing the nation and sowing public distrust. While concerning, each election provides an opportunity for the country to change course, to choose public servants committed to bipartisan collaboration.

Kavanaugh’s own testimony and public statements have proved beyond all doubt that his placement on the Supreme Court will politically mire the judiciary for generations.

We strongly believe in the Senate’s role of advice and consent, including its inherent nod to executive branch latitude in judicial nominations. Such latitude, however, is not limitless.

Finger pointing is at an all-time high in the Beltway, but no process flaws — not the handling of background investigations, or letters describing decades old accusations — are large enough to obscure the fact that Kavanaugh is unfit to serve.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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