On September 4–7, the United States Senate held hearings on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. After the hearings, Kavanaugh was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University, while they were both in high school. An additional hearing on this matter occurred on September 27. Other accusations were made by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. The FBI investigated Kavanaugh again, finding no corroboration of these accusations. Kavanaugh was then confirmed to the Supreme Court on October 6. Ten observations on these events follow.

1. The entire spectacle was unnecessary. In July, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) received a letter from Dr. Ford, who wished to remain anonymous, that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in 1982. Rather than reveal this to other Senators then so that arrangements could be made to resolve the issue in a manner that was respectful of both Ford’s desire to remain anonymous and Kavanaugh’s reputation, she sat on this information until it was politically expedient to release. Republicans then made the mistake of treating this at face value rather than as a cynical political ploy. However, they did seem to learn the lesson once the other accusations came forward, but some political damage was already done.

2. None of the accusers are remotely credible. Of the three, Ford’s claims sounded the most believable, and it is quite possible either that someone else victimized her or that she has false memory syndrome. But she could not recall the time or place, and all of the people that she named as witnesses said that the party at which the alleged assault took place never happened. The difficulties and inconsistencies involved in getting Ford to testify before the Senate as well as in her other statements further discredit her accusations. A similar accusation from Ramirez concerning a drunken party at Yale was likewise unsupported by any witnesses or evidence. Taking the cake, of course, are Swetnick’s allegations of parties at which women were drugged and gang-raped. She claims to have gone to ten such parties, despite being aware of their nature. Upon questioning, she also could not name a corroborating witness; one person she named is deceased, two others say the events never happened, and another claims not to know Swetnick.

3. Democrats used this tactic because it worked on Roy Moore. Following President Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, there was a special election in Alabama on December 12, 2017 to fill Sessions’ vacated Senate seat. A few weeks before the election was held, nine women accused Moore of sexual misconduct in the late 1970s, some of whom were minors at the time of the alleged incidents.[1] Moore claimed to know some of the women, but denied any wrongdoing. Trump stood with Moore, but few other Republicans did.[2,3] Democrat Doug Jones narrowly and unexpectedly defeated Moore, becoming the first Democrat to hold a US Senate seat in Alabama since 1992.

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  1. Martin, Jonathan; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (Nov. 14, 2017). “Roy Moore Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct by a Fifth Woman”. The New York Times. p. A1.
  2. Sullivan, Sean; Viebeck, Elise (Nov. 13, 2017). “McConnell calls on Roy Moore to end Senate campaign following accusations of sexual misconduct”. The Washington Post.
  3. Jackson, David (Dec. 4, 2017). “Trump endorses Roy Moore for Alabama Senate seat despite sex assault allegations”. USA Today.