Holy cow. Per the American Bar Association:
Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:
The American Bar Association urges the United States Senate Judiciary Committee (and, as appropriate, the full Senate) to conduct a confirmation vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States only after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Ford and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law. The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI.
Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote. Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court. It must remain an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics.
Respectfully, the Senate should recognize that a thorough FBI investigation will demonstrate its commitment to a Supreme Court that is above reproach.
Thank you for your consideration of this incredibly important matter.
This is, as we say in the business, a big freaking deal.
For one, because the ABA was one of Brett Kavanaugh’s strongest selling points to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Two, it’s the freaking American Bar Association, and this isn’t something that they normally do. The ABA is a 140-year old institution that’s responsible for setting academic standards and ethical codes for law schools across the country, and it’s saying that the most ethical and legal thing to do in this instance is to dutifully investigate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s credible attempted rape allegations.
The fact that they released this statement is shocking, but it’s also not that surprising when you think about it. The Supreme Court’s legitimacy is certainly at risk. As of right now, Brett Kavanaugh would be illegitimate in a significant amount—perhaps a plurality—of the population (read: tons of women) when ruling on anything that has to do with women’s rights. Not to mention, the Court has historically been an enemy of societal progress. We lionize it with rulings like Brown v. Board of Education because there simply isn’t a whole lot of good stuff to choose from.
Essays like the one I linked to in the previous sentence have begun to illuminate that fact on a wider scale, and more people are becoming more aware of our nation’s sordid history—aided by the Supreme Court’s immoral and unconstitutional rulings like Dred Scott v. Sandford (denied citizenship to African American slaves), Plessy v. Ferguson (upheld “separate but equal” segregation laws) and Korematsu v. United States (upheld internment of Japanese Americans during WWII). The Court has lost a significant chunk of its legitimacy compared to a generation ago, and I haven’t even mentioned Bush v. Gore yet—when five Republican justices overruled four Democratic justices and ordered Florida to stop recounting ballots—awarding the presidency to the Republican candidate.
Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Court without a thorough investigation of Dr. Ford’s claims would prove to be a Bush v. Gore-style shock to the Supreme Court’s legitimacy yet again. For all those Republicans crowing on and on about how process is being trampled here, they sure aren’t rushing to follow protocol and interview Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged co-conspirator, Mark Judge. Getting lost in the GOP’s desperate bid to turn this into a “he-said” “she-said” situation is the fact that Dr. Ford did not accuse just Brett Kavanaugh of committing a crime that night.
If the Republicans really did want to get through this process with a thorough investigation of Dr. Ford’s claims, Mark Judge would have to have been a part of the hearings. He wasn’t. He’s in a beach house in Delaware, “recovering from alcoholism” (Judge “does not recall” the alleged event—which is not a denial that it happened). If Judge could attest to Kavanaugh’s indisputable innocence, you have to figure that the Republicans would subpoena him to come testify. So why haven’t they?
This is why we need the FBI—not a party who has repeatedly trampled over state supreme courts they didn’t like, to investigate their nominee.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.