The Ukiah Daily Journal

The never-ending war on Brett Kavanaugh


Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court more than four years ago, on Oct. 6, 2018. His oath followed perhaps the ugliest Supreme Court Senate confirmati­on process in history — and that, given the previous examples of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, is saying something. But when it was all over, Kavanaugh settled in to the court, where he has, by all accounts, performed admirably ever since.

But the people who tried to kill the Kavanaugh nomination never gave up. They never went away. They still want to end his time on the court. And now, they seem to be having a moment, thanks to a new documentar­y that recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The picture is called “Justice,” and covers the confirmati­on fight in which three women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct decades earlier, when he was in high school and college. There's no need to go into the details of each case, but suffice it to say that none of the accusers' stories met even minimal standards of credibilit­y. Some were fanciful. Others were prepostero­us.

The “star” witness against Kavanaugh was Christine Blasey Ford, who (quoting from my coverage of the hearing) claimed “that at a high school party in 1982, when she was 15, a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh forced her onto a bed, tried to undress her, and, when she tried to scream, covered her mouth with his hand.”

The alleged incident was 36 years in the past when Ford accused Kavanaugh, and she had no contempora­neous evidence to support it. None of the people who Ford said attended the party corroborat­ed her story. One such “witness” told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she “does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollecti­on of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with or without Dr. Ford.” In the end, the Ford accusation boiled down to a matter of faith. There was no evidence to support it. There was no reason to believe it. But some Democrats, desperate to stop Kavanaugh, wanted to believe it.

So they did.

Another accuser, Deborah Ramirez, had even less to offer. Ramirez claimed that a drunken Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party at Yale 35 years earlier. Ramirez admitted she remembered little about the alleged incident — she was drunk, too — but in the intense light of the hearings, and after consulting with a lawyer for several days, she suddenly remembered enough to go public with her story.

Ramirez's partisans, including two reporters from The New York Times, tried to find witnesses to corroborat­e her account, but they could not find anything beyond some people who remembered that they heard something from somebody who had heard something that might or might not have involved Kavanaugh. It didn't even reach the level of hearsay.

With Kavanaugh's final accuser, Julie Swetnick, the Democrats' effort to stop the nomination descended into farce. Coached by the now-imprisoned lawyer Michael Avenatti, Swetnick claimed that at high school parties Kavanaugh and some other boys spiked the drinks of girls and then gang raped them. Swetnick had nothing to support her sensationa­l tale, which made even some of Kavanaugh's most impassione­d attackers a little hesitant to cite her.

Viewed together, the stories of the three women added up to … nothing. Senate Republican­s pressed forward with Kavanaugh's confirmati­on. Kavanaugh joined the court. The world moved on.

But Kavanaugh's attackers did not move on. And now, in

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