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


Cold Brew’s Insidious Hegemony

Soon, many parts of the United States will be unbearably hot. Texans and Arizonans will be able to bake cookies on their car dashboards; the garbage on the streets of New York will be especially pungent; Washington will not only figuratively be a swamp. And all across America, coffee consumers will turn their ... Read More

Australia’s Voters Reject Leftist Ideas

Hell hath no fury greater than left-wingers who lose an election in a surprise upset. Think Brexit in 2016. Think Trump’s victory the same year. Now add Australia. Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison shocked pollsters and pundits alike with his victory on Saturday, and the reaction has been brutal ... Read More
National Security & Defense

The Warmonger Canard

Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is — a crawl to peace, maybe — America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More
Film & TV

Game of Thrones: A Father’s Legacy Endures

Warning! If you don't want to read any spoilers from last night's series finale of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Right now. There is a lot to unpack about the Thrones finale, and I fully understand many of the criticisms I read on Twitter and elsewhere. Yes, the show was compressed. Yes, there were moments ... Read More