Home / General / Liberal law professor argues we shouldn’t hold a little attempted rape against Brett Kavanaugh all these years later

Liberal law professor argues we shouldn’t hold a little attempted rape against Brett Kavanaugh all these years later


What is this I don’t even.

Rosa Brooks is uncomfortable with the idea of opposing the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court because he allegedly tried to rape a 15-year-old girl when he was a 17-year-old preppie.

Now there’s a good point in this tweet storm, which is that it’s stupid and immoral to treat teenage criminals exactly like their adult counterparts, and that the fact that the American criminal justice system often does so (especially, as she notes, if the delightful little scamp isn’t an upper class white guy like our boy Brett) is typical of its many savage dysfunctions.

Instead of limiting herself to this fair observation, Brooks argues that:

As a lawyer I also think there are sound reasons behind statutes of limitations. After 35 years it is nearly impossible to conduct a full or fair investigation.

This does not mean I consider sexual assault “excusable” or “minor.” It just means that I think the bad behavior of minors should be treated differently than the behavior of adults, and that adults should not be shadowed forever by misdeeds as children.

If Kavanaugh responds to her accusations in a way that belittles her or other women who come forward with stories of sexual assault, THAT will definitely be relevant now.
And to all who say “well yes but the GOP would draw and quarter any Dem nominee with similar accusations against him,” you’re right, but why would Dems want to do the same things the GOP does?
But the GOP would not treat allegations of assault by a black teen as forgivingly,” I agree as well. But again, we shouldn’t conform to the bad behavior of others.
Again, this is not because I am “defending” Kavanaugh: I’d vote NO, and for all I know he is a complete jerk and a serial sexual assaulter to boot. All I’m saying is: I am uncomfortable having the current allegation be the basis for opposing, given the above.
Kavanaugh is saying — to this point anyway, who knows what his story will be six days from now? — that his accuser is either lying or delusional.  How is that not “belittling” her, or failing to treat her with dignity and consideration?  Look, either you believe Ford or you don’t.  I think it’s far more likely than not that her story is substantially true (with allowances made for getting this or that detail wrong about a 30-35 year-old traumatic incident).  If it is, then Kavanaugh’s total denial is a re-victimization.  He is, to a significant extent, extending the commission of the crime into the present, when he’s 53 and sober.
Also, how is it that a Georgetown law school professor fails to note in this context that lying under oath would be kind of a big deal for somebody who — and here’s the part that just blows my mind as the kids used to say — is interviewing for promotion to the Supreme Court?  In other words, this isn’t just a promotion, but a promotion to one of the most important jobs in the country — a job from which he can never be fired, and which he will probably keep for several decades.  And a job in which the candidate’s attitudes toward women in general are actually extremely significant to the performance of that job.
The question here isn’t whether Kavanaugh is going to go to prison or even be fired from from his present employment, but whether he gets to be on the Supreme Court for the next 30 years or so.  Nobody has a due process right to be on the Supreme Court.  Again, this is a job interview, not a trial.
Should having a little attempted rape in your past be a relevant consideration in that interview? (Let alone lying about it now under oath — again I don’t even).  Hell yes that should be relevant!  Would Brooks argue that it shouldn’t be relevant for a candidate she would otherwise want to see on the Court? Apparently she would!  (I’m not even going to address the idea that progressives shouldn’t play political hardball because I don’t want my head to explode like in that Cronenberg movie).
I find this incomprehensible.  Does Brooks want to argue that trying to rape somebody when you’re 17 has no real significance in regard to what your attitude now is toward women, sexual autonomy, power, violence, etc., when you’re 53?  That’s simply absurd in my view.
What’s even more absurd is that implicit in all this is the idea that there’s something incredibly precious and special about Brett Kavanaugh (or hypothetically his progressive equivalent, who Brooks would vote for if she were in the Senate, even if Mr. Progressive Dreamboat Justice turned out to have been kind of rapey in his past).
That is just ridiculous.  There are hundreds — more realistically thousands — of superbly qualified people for this job.  For one thing, it’s a big country. For another, this isn’t rocket surgery.  Very large numbers of those people have never tried to rape anybody (For some inexplicable reason the people in that category are disproportionately women).  If it turns out a SCOTUS nominee has tried to rape somebody then you replace him with somebody who hasn’t.  And again, either Ford is lying/crazy, or Kavanaugh is lying under oath. Pick your side and argue accordingly.



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