It was an exhausting day Thursday listening to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford interact with the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the points at which Judge Kavanaugh boiled over was when he went on a rant against the Clintons, who are extracting payback; against U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein; and against Democrats in general. He believes they all are conspiring to bring him down in “this circus,” to quote him.
What does such blatant political bias and anger hold for future political appellants to the Supreme Court? Would a Justice Kavanaugh be able to be fair to a Democratic Party in front of the court? Would a conservative appellant be given a break? Would Kavanaugh have to recuse himself on case after case in front of him?
Kavanaugh has been described by supporters as someone who would call balls and strikes. Does this umpire have the temperament and calm to be in the big leagues?
Bob Brereton, St. Paul
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The question of the day seemed to be whether Kavanaugh could credibly defend himself against accusations of sexual harassment. What concerns me further is how a Supreme Court nominee with a long, continuous history of politically far-right advocacy could honestly swear he would be a thoughtful, impartial administrator of justice. Doesn’t that sound equally dubious and disturbing?
Steve Mark, Minnetonka
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After Judge Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump could even name Jesus Christ as the next Supreme Court nominee and Democrats serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee (at the 11th hour) would bring forward accusations to destroy the nominee. Simply calling the same play, the “Kavanaugh” play.
If it can be determined — proved — that all of the accuser’s allegations are true, then Kavanaugh should not be on the Supreme Court. And if the allegations are fiction and Kavanaugh loses the votes and the appointment, here is my opinion for him: Start suing. (If that is possible.) Maybe Kavanaugh can reach out to Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to get a lawyer referral.
Neil F. Anderson, Richfield
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Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says Democrats had better “watch out” for their Supreme Court nominees. However, since Republicans won’t allow hearings on Democratic nominees, his threat doesn’t really mean that much, now does it?
Donald Voge, Robbinsdale
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After watching and listening to most of the hearings on Thursday, I have come to one conclusion. Our system of checks and balances is in serious jeopardy. There was a good reason to have a filibuster-proof majority to approve a Supreme Court judge. Except in rare cases, one could not be appointed without being acceptable to both parties. I realize that particular Pandora’s box was opened several years ago and we may not be able to put it back in, but without this mechanism, the court simply becomes a hyperpolitical appointment, and the American people are the losers.
James Bettendorf, Brooklyn Park
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The Kavanaugh hearings have brought to mind a famous speech delivered to the Senate by U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith on June 1, 1950. The topic was different — McCarthyism — but portions of the content ring true today. A few pertinent excerpts:
“I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul searching — for us to weigh our consciences — on the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America; on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.
“I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks … of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation.
“Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution in the Senate, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined … .
“Today our country is being psychologically divided by the confusion and the suspicions that are bred in the United States Senate to spread like cancerous tentacles of ‘know nothing, suspect everything’ attitudes.”
So, have we learned nothing in the past seven decades?
Bill Sutherland, Eden Prairie
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We witnessed a spectacle on Thursday: an airing-out of accusations and denials, and the arrogance of a congressional committee that will not investigate serious allegations.
As a father of two daughters and a grandfather of one granddaughter, I’d like to think that if they were hurt or assaulted, that they could credibly bring those concerns with no time limits if that could save just one person grief. We don’t limit Holocaust survivors bringing up trauma. We certainly don’t have a statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, and Christine Blasey Ford was a child when the incident she’s calling our attention to happened.
The American people deserve to have this investigated. Apparently, what’s stopping it is that our president does not care to order the FBI to investigate. That’s condescending to women, and to us all.
Eliot Axelrod, Bloomington
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At his testimony, Brett Kavanaugh said: “The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced ‘advice and consent’ with ‘search and destroy.’ ” Sen. John Cornyn, the committee’s No. 2 Republican, said: “You need more than an accusation for evidence; you need corroboration, and that’s what’s missing here.”
Why is that? It is because the Republican hierarchy refused to allow an investigation when one was called for. Otherwise, we would have answers instead of this ridiculous he said/she said confrontation. For my part, I thought that Ford’s testimony was powerful and honest, while Kavanaugh’s recitation of government jobs he has held smacked of a “I never got caught before” defense. Beyond that, his blaming everything on the Democrats was less than judicial.
If there is one thing that today’s hearing confirms, it is that there should have been an investigation and there should have been witnesses called to testify under oath. That those things did not happen tells us, first, that Republicans have known all along that Kavanaugh did what he is accused of and, second, that they don’t care.
Elizabeth Halvorson, Deephaven
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On average, fewer than 5 percent of reported sexual assaults are falsely reported. That’s on par with all major crimes in the U.S.
Yet, when a person does report, they get shamed, critiqued, harassed and made into jokes. They get asked what they were wearing, or if they’re sure they didn’t want it. They get their sexual history used against them, or they flat-out get their character bashed. Name one other crime where the victim gets blamed in such a way.
Under these circumstances, who would want to report? As for those who say people only report for money, political gain or to ruin someone’s life — whose life is really being ruined? How would any of those things be worth the harassment a person gets for coming forward? And it doesn’t help that only a handful of reports actually lead to a conviction. With our system, it’s no wonder people don’t want to report. So instead of victim-blaming, maybe let’s work on changing our culture and our system.
Olivia Speeter, Champlin
The writer is a graduate student in counseling psychology.