Editor’s Note: Carrie Sheffield, a conservative commentator, is the founder of Bold, a digital news network committed to bipartisan dialogue. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
The genesis of #MeToo was a noble call for a world free from sexual harassment and violence.
To treat women worse than men in the workplace or the court of law is fundamentally corrosive to America’s ideals of justice and fundamental human dignity.
And because of the movement, powerful men who’d preyed upon vulnerable women for decades were toppled overnight, and corporate giants were brought down as their vile behavior came to light.
Yet as a conservative woman, I am concerned that, in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the noble justice of #MeToo has been politically hijacked and weaponized, co-opted by Democrats seeking to extrapolate this just cause for liberal policies that go beyond equal and fair treatment for women. They are attempting to tip the scales of justice away from evidence and data toward emotion and speculation – assuming guilt first – and without credible evidence to support their conclusion.
As The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote, “the Democratic standard for sexual-assault allegations is that they should be accepted as true merely for having been made. The accuser is assumed to be telling the truth because the accuser is a woman. The burden is on Mr. Kavanaugh to prove his innocence. If he cannot do so, then he is unfit to serve on the Court.”
As a conservative activist, I publicly argued on CNN and elsewhere that the overwhelming evidence against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore should tip the balance away from conservatives supporting him (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing Kavanaugh, also said Moore should drop out).
This went against my political desires, and Moore lost the seat. But it was what justice demanded to protect innocent young women. The testimony and evidence were too robust to assume Moore’s innocence – Moore himself admitted that he dated “young ladies” while he was in his 30s, and multiple eye witnesses confirmed Moore’s predatory behavior toward teenage girls.
Yet the reverse appears true in the case of Kavanaugh – zero eye witnesses have confirmed the allegations by either Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez, and multiple FBI background checks into Kavanaugh never surfaced any type of questionable conduct.
If the accusations leveled against Kavanaugh by Ford and Ramirez are true, they should be disqualifying for a Supreme Court Justice. (Kavanaugh denies both.) That these women say they experienced sexual misconduct and were too ashamed, or too intoxicated, to hold the perpetrators accountable is heartbreaking. Their allegations should be met with empathy and a societal push to ensure that any victim of sexual abuse can easily and transparently report sex crimes without fear, shame or retaliation.
However, these women have yet to produce serious evidence to support their serious allegations. They lack the vital components that Gretchen Carlson described to me in an interview on Bold TV and in her new book: evidence, documentation and witnesses. Carlson, who successfully challenged harassment by a former employer, knows that these are the best shields of truth against the evils of misogyny and abuse.
That the New Yorker chose to publish Ramirez’s flimsy allegation without any other eyewitnesses confirming that Kavanaugh was present at the party where the alleged sexual assault occurred is an irresponsible and reckless journalistic choice, especially tragic in light of Ronan Farrow’s excellent prior #MeToo reporting.
Ford’s allegation, meanwhile, relies on secondhand therapist notes from 2012, with a major discrepancy: Ford says there were two other people in the room during the alleged assault, and the therapist says there were four people involved. Neither two nor four – in fact, zero – eyewitnesses have confirmed the alleged assault occurred, and the secondhand notes evidence wouldn’t go far in the court of law since they don’t mention Kavanaugh.
Ford’s testimony scheduled for Thursday must pass a high evidentiary bar to credibly establish a pattern of behavior that is anathema to everything we know about Kavanaugh. The opposite was true about so many of the men we’ve seen toppled under #MeToo – the allegations against them affirmed cruel patterns that manifested themselves over decades.
After Ford’s allegation, some of Kavanaugh’s high school friends collected the signatures of 65 women who knew him in high school and college who vouched for his character as a champion of women (one woman subsequently withdrew her name). During Kavanaugh’s 12 years as a federal judge, he has pushed hard to help women law clerks get hired at the Supreme Court, efforts that have now ensured he is one of the leading federal judges in the country at promoting women law clerks to get Supreme Court clerkships.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into this matter, including Ford’s testimony on Thursday, will shed some light on any additional evidence Ford has. And since the alleged incident took place in Maryland, where there is no statute of limitation for felonies, Montgomery County police have said that if she filed a police report today, they would thoroughly investigate and potentially recommend charges. So far, Ford has declined to do so.
Should Ford decide to file this local report, justice would demand a thorough investigation. In the meantime, the US Constitution firmly places the authority for federal Supreme Court nominees in the hands of the Senate. To hear from Ford is a laudable move by senators, offering a chance for her to provide additional evidence as the Senate makes its decision about Kavanaugh’s character.
Given that the timing of both allegations is also suspect – dropped at the most politically opportune moments and without a sense of urgency to protect victims – the Senate should not be held hostage by speculation and innuendo. The New Yorker admitted that Ramirez was originally unsure if Kavanaugh was even responsible for the alleged abuse – going public only after six days of talking with her lawyer. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, also chose not to immediately share Ford’s grave allegation, sitting on the evidence for weeks until just prior to a confirmation vote. (Though Feinstein claims she promised Ford that she keep her letter confidential.)
It increasingly appears Democrats are more interested in a political takedown than pursuing allegations through a bipartisan, investigative process.
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The hypocrisy of Democrats is that they are pushing for dismantling the rule of law, even as they accuse President Donald Trump of dismantling the same. There is a pathway to both investigate the charges against Kavanaugh, and then, if they prove credible beyond a reasonable doubt, to impeach and remove him, from either his current or any future role. Should Ford choose to separately pursue this route, it would be the best way to support the Constitution while also ensuring justice.
Progressive women who don the scarlet robes and white hats of “The Handmaid’s Tale” in protest of Judge Kavanaugh and other conservatives say they fear a backward, dystopian society where science takes a backseat to superstition. Ironically, if the “evidence” to date against Kavanaugh were to derail his nomination, they would be manifesting such a society.