Politics & Policy

Thank You, Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins speaks to reporters after announcing her support for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, October 5, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

We are not prone to praising Susan Collins. But we are delighted to make an exception for her impressive speech on the Senate floor this afternoon explaining why she’ll vote “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh. A process that has often been disgusting — exposing the bottomless bad faith of Senate Democrats and the hysterical partisanship of much of the mainstream media — reached the beginning of the end with a careful, thoughtful, and persuasive presentation by Senator Collins.

She rightly excoriated the last few weeks as akin to “a gutter-level political campaign.” She was appropriately angry over the charges surfaced by guttersnipe attorney Michael Avenatti that Judge Kavanaugh was allegedly part of a gang-rape ring as a teenager — a charge that, lest we forget, was taken seriously by the press and Democrats. She blasted whoever on the Democratic side leaked to the press Dr. Ford’s letter to the committee.

On Ford’s allegation, she got to the crux of the matter: The witnesses that Ford named have no memory of such a party, and no one has come forward who does. (We will note that Kavanaugh categorically denied being at such a party before he knew what Ford’s friend, Leland Keyser, would say — taking a great risk unless he was sincere and truthful in his denial.) There are key gaps in Ford’s account, including not knowing how she got home from the party in question. She could have mentioned, but didn’t, that the FBI’s renewed background check she pushed for turned up no corroborating information.

Opponents of Judge Kavanaugh say that Republicans are brushing by Ford’s allegation. As Collins demonstrated, that’s not true. It’s simply that there isn’t enough evidence to credit her charge; in fact the evidence cuts the other way, even under the “more likely than not” standard that Collins set out. She spoke, with conviction, of how important she believes the Me Too movement is. But that doesn’t mean that every accusation must be believed, or the mere existence of an accusation should be enough to destroy someone’s reputation and career.

Collins spent the first part of her remarks defending Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence, in a bizarre flashback to what the Kavanaugh confirmation was largely — although not entirely — about a few weeks ago. She emphasized how much weight he puts on precedent. This is important to Collins because she hopes the Court will preserve Roe v. Wade. We think she’s wrong to infer from Kavanaugh’s respect for precedent that Roe has a safe future, and, of course, disagree with her on the merits of that execrable decision. But we will leave that for another day.

For now we will only say, Well done, Senator. You have done your institution and yourself proud.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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