Op-Ed

Let’s not prejudge either Kavanaugh or Blasey

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a classmate while in high school.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a classmate while in high school. Getty Images

A person accuses another person of serious wrongdoing. The accused denies the accusation. Whom do we believe?

This is the scenario in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whom Christine Blasey Ford has accused of sexually assaulting her almost 35 years ago.

What should we Americans do? We are constituted, by our values and principles of justice, to treat both the alleged victim and the alleged wrongdoer fairly, with respect and with due process. The accused deserves to know with specificity the accusation made against him, and each deserves the opportunity to be heard. We should not prejudge either one before hearing from both of them.

The hearing, prior to the leak of Blasey’s letter, was a spectacle of Washington, D.C., politics at its worst. The American public has become immune to the unentertaining circus of U.S. senators masquerading as amateur cross-examiners in Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. But the proceedings have hit new lows. It has been our own Roman Coliseum spectacle of raving fanatics on both sides egged on by the partisan political “leaders.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, doing her own variation of the Republican tactic used against Obama nominee Merrick Garland to run out the clock, waited until the very last minute to leak Blasey’s letter. It assured chaos and has done nothing to ensure that either Blasey or Kavanaugh is treated fairly. Feinstein has steamrolled over the reputations of two people to accomplish her partisan goal, treating those reputations earned over a lifetime as mere dispensable political fodder. The Republicans, having exercised the nuclear option to eliminate the 60 votes needed to confirm a Supreme Court justice and having treated the highly respected Garland as political roadkill, have exhausted their credibility to seriously challenge the Democrats’ tactic to similarly treat as roadkill another highly respected nominee, this time Kavanaugh.

But, sadly, it is what it is. What should be done now?

The Senate Judiciary Committee must hear from both Kavanaugh and Blasey. Our justice system dictates that the accuser testifies first. Then Kavanaugh should have his opportunity to respond. The White House should direct the FBI, as part of its background investigation into Kavanaugh, to interview Blasey and pursue any reasonable leads, including interviewing witnesses who might have relevant information.

The FBI can do that professionally and expeditiously. It can then report its findings to the Judiciary Committee. Senators can then act on it and vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination before the November election. That will require senators to stay in Washington, D.C., and work in earnest to do what is right, regardless of whether it means they will be kept from the campaign trail. They created their own mess. They should now act responsibly to make sure that Kavanaugh and Blasey — as well as the rest of Americans — are treated fairly and with respect.

That is what we Americans do.

Roberto Martinez is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

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