Editorial: Consider both sides in Kavanaugh hearing

The Detroit News

Much has been said about the courage required of professor Christine Blasey Ford to come forward with her accusation of a sexual assault she alleges she endured 36 years ago at the hands of Judge Brett Kavanaugh when both were in high school in Maryland. And, indeed, it is wrenching for a woman to bring such an allegation, in both reliving the experience and enduring the public judgment.

Of course there’s another side of this she said, he said story, and it will be heard when Kavanaugh raises his right hand and swears to tell the whole truth before a hearing of the Senate Judicial Committee. That hearing could take place as early as Monday; Ford has requested to appear later in the week.

Kavanaugh is taking a risk, too. He is testifying under oath. A wrong statement of facts, a distortion of details, can result in humiliation and even a perjury charge. He will be addressing accusations leveled through second-hand sources, and will not have had a chance to hear Ford’s account.

Public opinion is not waiting to hear from Kavanaugh and Ford. People are lining up either for or against Kavanaugh, with many liberal groups calling for his withdrawal even before he gets a chance to answer the third-party accusations.

Kavanaugh denies he participated in an assault, which allegedly occurred at a party he says he doesn’t recall attending.

Both Ford and Kavanaugh appear to be of good character. Neither apparently has in their pasts a history of deceit, or, for that matter, anything else that would suggest they would lie about such a momentous event.

Kavanaugh has been a federal judge for 12 years. Before that, he served for more than five years in the White House for President George W. Bush, including as assistant to the president.

President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, for the third day of his confirmation hearing.

As a judge, he knows full well the consequences of lying under oath. Those who ask why Ford would lie about this incident must also ask why Kavanaugh would betray both his honor and a lifetime commitment to the law and the truth.

Washington politics are at a boil.

Democrats have sought to delay a confirmation vote until after the Nov. 6 midterm election in hopes that their party will regain control of the Senate, at which time they are bound to demand no vote on Kavanaugh until after the new Senate is seated. Republicans are determined to proceed now, when they have a certain majority.

The hearings should go forward, and both Ford and Kavanaugh should be heard. In the end, senators may have little more to go on other than word of these two individuals, and will have to decide for themselves which is more believable.

But in the process both should be treated fairly and with respect, and neither should be subjected to a speculative inquisition.