Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Mea Maxima Culpa

I apologize deeply and sincerely to all those whom I have harmed by my appalling and inexcusable tweet thread last week—above all, the person whose name I wrongly made public, but lots of others as well, including Judge Kavanaugh, my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleagues, those institutions and individuals who have supported my work or my colleagues’ work, the editors of National Review (who have made it possible for me to reach a wide audience here at Bench Memos since 2005), and many others who had placed their trust in me.

I also apologize to victims of sexual assault and to Dr. Ford for these and other tweets that did not address with respectful consideration the difficult question of how to assess allegations of sexual assault. I do not believe that all such allegations must be accepted as true, and I believe further that the usual inquiries into motivation, cognition, memory and other matters that apply to other charges properly apply to these as well. But my tweets did not advance the discussion in a constructive way.

I don’t mean this to be exculpatory, but I do want to emphasize that my grave error resulted not from malice towards anyone but instead from my deep faith in the honesty and integrity of Judge Kavanaugh, whom I have known, worked with, and admired for many years, and from my resulting over-readiness to rush to his defense.

At the direction of my board, I will be taking a leave of absence of undetermined duration from EPPC. I intend to use the leave to reflect on how and why I made the mistakes I did and to chart a better course forward. I expect that my blogging will be much reduced in the meantime (and that my tweeting will be minimal or non-existent).

I am grateful for all the consoling notes I have received, including some from very unexpected quarters. I fully deserve much of the criticism that others have directed at me, and I will not undertake here to distinguish between the fair critiques and the unfair ones. To those who have taken delight in being vicious towards me, I will say only that my self-rebuke stings far more than anything they can say.

Most Popular

Elections

How Can Bernie Sanders Happen in America?

A number of pundits have recently argued that younger voters, especially those under 30, are less inclined to be bothered when they hear the word “socialism,” since they have no firsthand memory of the Cold War. To some extent, this must be true. Those who weren’t alive during socialism’s cruelest ... Read More
Elections

How Can Bernie Sanders Happen in America?

A number of pundits have recently argued that younger voters, especially those under 30, are less inclined to be bothered when they hear the word “socialism,” since they have no firsthand memory of the Cold War. To some extent, this must be true. Those who weren’t alive during socialism’s cruelest ... Read More
Media

‘Undiagnosed Sociopath’

As we abandon moral language for clinical language, we run into technical difficulties. Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman describes the 2020 presidential election as one that may be a contest between “a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath.” There is no such thing as an ... Read More
Media

‘Undiagnosed Sociopath’

As we abandon moral language for clinical language, we run into technical difficulties. Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman describes the 2020 presidential election as one that may be a contest between “a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath.” There is no such thing as an ... Read More
Elections

Bernie Sanders Is a Moral Monster

Bernie Sanders complains that some criticism of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is “unfair.” The Castro government lined up political dissidents and shot them. It tortured them. It weaponized the medical profession to torture and deform its critics. Its campaign of murder was extraordinary, its ... Read More
Elections

Bernie Sanders Is a Moral Monster

Bernie Sanders complains that some criticism of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is “unfair.” The Castro government lined up political dissidents and shot them. It tortured them. It weaponized the medical profession to torture and deform its critics. Its campaign of murder was extraordinary, its ... Read More