Law & the Courts

The Anti-Kavanaugh Campaign Could Be Just Beginning

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh listens at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, September 4, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
The justice’s enemies believe that layering on dubious allegations somehow makes each one more credible, but it speaks only to their own desperation.

The campaign against Brett Kavanaugh hasn’t required the formation of any super PACs. It hasn’t required the hiring of any dumpster-diving private detectives (so far as we know). It hasn’t even really required any elected Democratic officials.

The campaign has been carried out by an elite media — and two of its most prestigious properties, the New York Times and The New Yorker — that prides itself on its standards and its Olympian status.

During his confirmation hearings, The New Yorker first published an allegation by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party at Yale when they were both students. Ramirez spent almost a week “assessing her memories” before making the charge and told friends that she wasn’t sure it was him. No eyewitness places Kavanaugh in the room.

It was in support of the New Yorker story that shouldn’t have been published that the New York Times issued forth over the weekend with its own piece that also shouldn’t have been published, an excerpt from a new anti-Kavanaugh book by two Times reporters. The essay floated the allegation that he exposed himself to another woman at another Yale party but left out that the woman’s friends say she doesn’t recall the incident (she declined to be interviewed).

Here, we have one flimsy, uncorroborated story in the Times being advanced to buttress another flimsy, uncorroborated story in The New Yorker, which, in its turn, was supposed to lend credibility to Christine Blasey Ford’s original flimsy, uncorroborated story.

Kavanaugh’s enemies believe that layering on dubious allegations somehow makes each one more credible, whereas it only speaks to their own desperation.

Belatedly, the Times amended the essay and appended an editor’s note alerting readers that a key — no, the key — piece of information about the alleged victim had been left out of the original version.

Surely, if a piece had causally smeared anyone with whom the Times has a natural affinity — say, Rachel Maddow or Ruth Bader Ginsburg — there would have been editorial due diligence before publishing it. But Kavanaugh, as a privileged white male who might vote against Roe v. Wade, is a hate figure who is presumed guilty, even of an offense that it turns out his alleged victim isn’t accusing him of.

The larger point of the Times book excerpt is that Kavanaugh was privileged and Deborah Ramirez was not, so of course he must have thoughtlessly done something rotten to her at Yale.

As for Roe, Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, made it explicit. “He will always have an asterisk next to his name,” Katz explained in remarks claiming moral victory from the Senate hearings on Kavanaugh. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him.”

In other words, the talking point is all cued up if Kavanaugh votes against Roe: He’s a misogynist showing his disdain for women yet again.

Top Democrats understand the play. They immediately began calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment over the weekend. “His place on the court,” according to Kamala Harris, “is an insult to the pursuit of justice.” Top-tier presidential contenders Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren joined the calls, as did a number of the single-digit candidates. No one revised and extended their remarks after the update by the Times, because this has nothing to do with evidence or fairness.

In part, the Left is working the referee — by essentially asking the ref when he stopped beating his wife. If Kavanaugh never votes to overturn or erode Roe, at least the volume of the vitriol against him will diminish. If he does, the full fury of the Left, mustering all the levers of its cultural power high and low, will be directed at him. Pro-abortion forces surely want Kavanaugh aware of this whenever he’s hearing any abortion-related cases.

The anti-Kavanaugh campaign could be just beginning.

© 2019 by King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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