The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh have been a breeding ground for partisanship and shade. Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by Dr. Blasey Ford, along with allegations from other women. Multiple people have claimed that in high school and college they witnessed Judge Kavanaugh display obnoxious behaviors while drinking. The Judge denied these accusations vehemently through tears to the Judiciary Committee.
Prior to the emotional testimony from Kavanaugh, Ford testified that while they were both in high school, he forced himself upon her while he was very intoxicated. She eventually escaped from underneath him before he could physically harm her, but she says she felt the mental effects for years. Her testimony even convinced President Trump that she was credible, but his mind changed later that same day after watching Kavanaugh angrily deny the accusations while snapping back at Democrats that were questioning him.
The committee eventually voted along party lines to recommend Kavanaugh to the entire Senate with one caveat from Senator Flake, the F.B.I. needs to investigate more. The F.B.I. concluded their investigation on Thursday, and both parties remained dug in afterwards. Republicans say that there is no evidence to support the victims, and Democrats say that the investigation was not thorough enough.
The debate on the Senate floor has been emotional, angry, and extremely divided along party lines. Today the Senate voted to move forward with the final confirmation vote tomorrow, with all of the Republicans voting to move forward, and all of the Democrats with the exception of Joe Manchin (D – WV) voting against. Manchin said that a large majority of his voters wanted him to vote yes, and being up for re-election, he did so.
The country has been divided just as proportionately as the Senate has been – making it impossible to escape the argument. Democrats say they believe the victims, and Republicans say that there is not enough evidence against Kavanaugh. So we reached out to ask a local Libertarian candidate for Congress in VA-07, Joe Walton, where he stands on the Kavanaugh controversy.
What do you make of the partisan divide in the Senate right now over Kavanaugh?
The partisan divide is frustrating in general and specifically with regard to this nomination. Having only two parties increases polarization and, when the party (or parties, the Republican and Democrats often protect their own when there are two parties in power state/federal districts) in power can draw the district lines, results in gerrymandering.
Did you support the extra week of investigating Senator Flake requested?
Yes, I absolutely support:: the additional FBI investigation. I definitely would not have supported the nomination in committee nor on the floor without a full investigation into these or any credible sexual misconduct matters.
Do you believe that Kavanaugh has the composure to sit on the Supreme Court?
No. If someone is innocent, their testimony should be simple and calm: ‘I’m innocent of these charges, please investigate them and take all the time you need.’ Not having been willing to judiciously present himself for investigation is troubling with regard to his temperament and his innocence about his past and his testimony.
Which party do you believe has shown more partisan motives during the hearings?
I don’t think either has necessarily been ‘more partisan’ though perhaps the Republicans being unwilling to let the issue be investigated is unusual. Also, Senator Lindsey Graham acted completely inappropriately but it is unclear at this time if it was excessive partisanship or personal intemperance.
What would you do differently if you were on the Judiciary Committee ?
I would not have supported the nomination without all credible claims being investigated.
Do you think Grassley has handled the hearing appropriately?
No, he should have requested all credible claims be investigated before a vote was held.
Do you think that Kavanaugh should be confirmed?
It depends on the FBI investigation and results. If the investigation was abridged or truncated then that would raise serious concerns for me as much as the results of the investigation. Judge Kavanaugh’s temperament and composure – and his own partisanship – are concerning as well. He is not the nominee I would have chosen had I been consulted (Merrick Garland or perhaps Neil Gorsuch are ideal nominees) but the Senate’s role is advise and consent, not chose the nominee. The Senate’s role is less judicial philosophy and more judicial temperament – a threshold to which Judge Kavanaugh is tenuously clinging at this time.
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