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My Turn - Kavanaugh is close

The saga of Brett Kavanaugh’s tortuous trip to the highest court in the land seemed like smooth sailing until mid-September. That’s when Christine Basely Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her while in a drunken stupor in a locked bedroom at a 1982 high school party. 

Later, two other women came forward with charges of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, also dating from the 1980s, all of which he has emphatically denied.

After enduring a marathon Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, a plethora of accusations, and a paucity of evidence to corroborate them, Kavanaugh was subjected to another FBI investigation, the seventh. It was insisted on by committee Democrats and agreed to by committee Republicans and President Trump.

The FBI submitted its 40-something-page report to the White House, which referred it to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A single copy was placed in a secure location for ultimate reading by the entire Senate, under strict rules, including no notes or recordings regarding its contents.

Friday morning, the Senate voted 51-49 on a procedural measure to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to a confirmation vote. Only one Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against Kavanaugh. Only one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for Kavanaugh.

Friday’s penultimate Senate vote set the stage for the Senate showdown, roll-call vote, probably to come late Saturday afternoon or evening. I say “probably” on purpose, because my column is due before midnight Friday, and because anything goes in what has become a dysfunctional Supreme Court nominee confirmation process.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, spoke eloquently on all that in announcing she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

“Some argue that because this is a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the public interest requires that doubts be resolved against the nominee. Others see the public interest as embodied in our long-established tradition of affording to those accused 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."

She added, “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.”

Collins goes on to elaborate extensively on how and why she reached her decision, closing with, “Mr. President, we’ve heard a lot of charges about Judge Kavanaugh. But as they who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father. Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and our highest  court is restored. Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

Well said, Sen. Collins. I commend your entire speech to my readers.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B.Vaughn can be reached at