Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before testifying during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
Brett Kavanaugh: ‘I Swear Today, Under Oath ... I Am Innocent of This Charge’
Kavanaugh highlighted the problem with the politicization of the approval process and the demonization of nominees
We live in an age in which technological media has replaced the spoken word as the chosen means of communication. As a result of that, few people today appreciate the art of oratory—and even fewer know it when they see it. That’s a shame, because though some pundits will certainly argue to the contrary, Brett Kavanaugh just delivered one of the finest speeches in years.
During his impassioned address, Kavanaugh affirmed:
Allegations of sexual assault must always be taken seriously, always. Those who make allegations always deserve to be heard.
At the same time, the person who was the subject of the allegations also deserves to be heard. Due process is a foundation of the American rule of law. Due process means listening to both sides.
Of course, “listening to both sides” has become a lost art in modern times; for many, “innocent until proven guilty” has been replaced by innocent until proven male. Kavanaugh highlighted the problem with the politicization of the approval process and the demonization of nominees: “The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”
Kavanaugh not only made a well-reasoned, logical, and powerful defense of his own case, but he seemed to speak on behalf of those who have ever suffered from legal injustice throughout history. More immediately, he pondered the consequences of a system—and a culture—that no longer requires evidence or corroboration to indict, convict and sentence. He mentioned a few of those consequences:
I loved teaching law. But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to teach again.
…I coach because I know that a girl's confidence on the basketball court translates into confidence in other aspects of life. I love coaching more than anything I've ever done in my whole life. But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.
As some members clamored for more time to investigate him, Kavanaugh reminded his audience of a few facts:
I have been in the public arena and under extreme public scrutiny for decades.
…I and other leading members of Ken Starr's office were opposition researched from head to toe, from birth through the present day. Recall the people who were exposed that year of 1998 as having in engaged in some sexual wrongdoing or indiscretions in their pasts. One person on the left even paid a million dollars for people to report evidence of sexual wrongdoing, and it worked. Exposed some prominent people. Nothing about me.
From 2001 to 2006, I worked for President George W. Bush in the White House…
I was then nominated to be a judge on the D.C. Circuit. I was thoroughly vetted by the White House, the FBI, the American Bar Association, and this committee. I sat before this committee for two thorough confirmation hearings in 2004 and 2006.
For the past 12 years leading up to my nomination for this job, I've served in a very public arena as a federal judge on what is often referred to as the second-most important court in the country. I've handled some of the most significant sensitive cases affecting the lives and liberties of the American people.
I have been a good judge. And for this nomination, another FBI background investigation, another American Bar Association investigation, 31 hours of hearings, 65 senator meetings, 1,200 written questions, more than all previous Supreme Court nominees combined.
Throughout that entire time, throughout my 53 years and 7 months on this Earth, until last week, no one ever accused me of any kind of sexual misconduct. No one, ever. A lifetime. A lifetime of public service and a lifetime of high-profile public service at the highest levels of American government and never a hint of anything of this kind, and that's because nothing of this kind ever happened.
Speaking before a committee, some members of which consider a stupid and embarrassing high-school yearbook entry to be more relevant than the Bill of Rights, Kavanaugh noted that he has kept detailed personal appointment calendars since childhood. It had been noted by some commentators, however, that his calendars must be inaccurate. Why? Because “Sunday Mass” was not on the calendar. Kavanaugh responded to this omission:
“Some have noticed that I didn't have church on Sundays on my calendars. I also didn't list brushing my teeth. And for me, going to church on Sundays was like brushing my teeth, automatic. It still is.”
Kavanaugh concluded his speech with a reminder that law, due process, and justice are essential ingredients in any functioning republic. And he offers a standard that we all should employ going forward:
…We live in a country devoted to due process and the rule of law. That means taking allegations seriously.
But if the mere allegation — the mere assertion of an allegation — a refuted allegation from 36 years ago is enough to destroy a person's life and career, we will have abandoned the basic principles of fairness and due process that define our legal system and our country.
I ask you to judge me by the standard that you would want applied to your father, your husband, your brother or your son. My family and I intend no ill will toward Dr. Ford or her family.
But I swear today — under oath, before the Senate and the nation; before my family and God — I am innocent of this charge.