Bribery, crowdfunding, and the strange case of Senator Susan Collins
These same interest groups have speculated that Judge Kavanaugh was selected to do the bidding of conservative ideologues despite his record of judicial independence. I asked the judge point blank whether he had made any commitments or pledges to anyone at the White House, to Federalist Society or any outside group on how he would decide cases. He unequivocally assured me he had not. Judge Kavanaugh has received rave reviews for his 12-year track record as a judge, including for his judicial temperament. The American Bar Association gave him its highest possible rating. Its standing committee on the federal judiciary conducted an extraordinarily thorough assessment, soliciting input from almost 500 people, including his judicial colleagues. The ABA concluded that his integrity, judicial temperament and professional confidence met the highest standards.
Lisa Blatt, who has argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other woman in history testified, quote, “By any objective measure, Judge Kavanaugh is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. His opinions are invariably thoughtful and fair.” Ms. Blatt, who clerked for him, is an ardent admirer of Justice Ginsburg, and who is an unapologetic defender of a woman's right to choose, says that Judge Kavanaugh fits within the mainstream of legal thought. She also observed that Judge Kavanaugh is remarkably committed to promoting women in the legal profession. That Judge Kavanaugh is more of a centrist than some of his critics maintain is reflected in the fact that he and Chief Judge Merrick Garland voted the same way in 93 percent of the cases that they heard together. Indeed Chief Judge Garland joined in more than 96 percent of the majority opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh, dissenting only once.
Despite all this, Kavanaugh's record, and listening to 32 hours of his testimony, the Senate's advice and consent role was thrown into a tailspin following the allegations of sexual assault by Professor Christine Blasey Ford. The confirmation process now involves evaluating whether or not Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault and lied about it to the Judiciary Committee. Some argue that, because this is a lifetime appointment to our highest courts, public interest requires that doubts be resolved against the nominee. Others see the public interest as abiding to our longest tradition of affording to those accused of misconduct a presumption of innocence. In cases in which the facts are unclear, they would argue that the question should be resolved in favor of the nominee.
Did the Democrats mishandle the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh?
Mr. President, I understand both viewpoints. This debate is complicated further by the fact that the Senate confirmation process is not a trial. But certain fundamental legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking and I cannot abandon them. In evaluating any given claim of misconduct, we will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be. We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy. The presumption of innocence is relevant to the advice and consent function when an accusation departs from a nominee's otherwise exemplary record. I worry that departing from this presumption could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary and would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process moving forward.