The Corner

Law & the Courts

Old Character Assassinations Don’t Support New Character Assassinations

In the absence of corroborating evidence of the sexual-misconduct claims against Brett Kavanaugh, there’s an argument making the rounds that Americans shouldn’t believe his denials because he’s already “lied to the public and to Congress.” Writing in Vox, Matthew Yglesias offers a lengthy version of this argument:

[Ford’s claim] is, however, on some level, an inherently he-said, she-said kind of situation, and Kavanaugh rightly could not be sent to jail on the basis of this level of evidence. A promotion to a Supreme Court seat, however, seems like a place where a preponderance of evidence standard could prevail instead.

There’s a fundamental problem for Kavanaugh in a he-said, she-said context. There is one thing that I — who, like most Americans, did not follow his career pre-selection — really know about Brett Kavanaugh: He is willing to fib to get a Supreme Court seat.

I agree with Yglesias on the preponderance of evidence standard, but his evidence that Kavanaugh is willing to “fib” is largely a recycling of various debunked and exaggerated claims against Kavanaugh from the first round of hearings. In a lengthy article from earlier this month, I detailed the claims against Kavanaugh and the evidence supporting his testimony. As part of that evidence, I included an observation from a law professor — quoted in Vox, of all places — that she “didn’t see any lie” in the statements that Yglesias seems to find most problematic — statements about Manuel Miranda’s “scheme to pilfer Democratic staff emails.”

Earlier this month, Democrats weren’t content to merely attack Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy. A number of activists and legislators instead strained to attack his character in part by misreading and mischaracterizing his testimony. That failed effort can’t be permitted to influence the current controversy. The new claims will stand or fall based on their evidence, and Kavanaugh should testify free of the taint of bogus claims of past misrepresentations.

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