The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The Republican Party has laid itself bare

As Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces a sexual misconduct allegation, columnist Ruth Marcus asks, who's responsible for the burden of proof? (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

“It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken ASAP.” — Sen. Lindsey O.Graham (R-S.C.), Sept. 19

On Sunday night, the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer published an article detailing a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, the Republican Supreme Court nominee. Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate from Kavanaugh’s undergraduate years, described a drunken freshman-year dormitory party during which she claims he exposed himself and thrust his penis into her face, causing her to touch it accidentally as she pushed him away. None of it, she said, occurred with her consent.

“I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said, acknowledging that she too was inebriated during the party and that there are gaps in her memory.

How can McConnell ‘plow right through’ now?

The article offers disturbing details about the alleged event at Yale, and about the alcohol-soaked backdrop of Ivy League and prep-school party culture when Kavanaugh was a student in the 1980s. But tucked into the New Yorker article is one particularly appalling revelation that speaks less to the character of the Supreme Court nominee himself than to that of the Republicans who continued to press his case:

The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. [Emphasis mine.]

Ah. We had wondered what the hurry was, and now it all makes sense. It turns out that Graham and other in-the-know Republicans were likely in a rush because they were hoping to get out ahead of a second female accuser, to ram through a confirmation vote before any new potential roadblocks could be brought to light. It was “imperative.”

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They “expressed concern” — not about the truth of the allegation, or the impact such an incident might have had on the accuser, or whether it sheds light on the existing allegations made by research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford. No, they were concerned about the potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination — and whether it would hamper their ability to install their favored candidate in a lifelong appointment, where his decisions could affect the lives of millions.

The staggering hypocrisy of Brett Kavanaugh

If you wondered whether senior Republicans wanted to find out the truth about their nominee or the allegations levied against him — by Ford, by Ramirez or in any other case — you have your answer.

If you assumed that these Republicans cared about character, or that the concerns of women matter to them in any way, it’s time to revise that assumption.

If you held out hope that Kavanaugh’s advocates would set aside their partisan aims in favor of country, justice or even preserving the legitimacy of the nation’s highest court, it should be extinguished.

And if there were any doubt that Kavanaugh must withdraw from the nomination, it has been resolved.