When asked in an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN about whether or not Brett Kavanaugh deserved the presumption of innocence with respect to the allegations of sexual assault against him, Senator Mazie Hirono said she puts "his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases," as reported by Michael Burke of The Hill.
Hirono’s statement is troubling, because like many of her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, she seems to place her political affiliation over her morals. Hirono is more concerned about Kavanaugh’s conservative affiliation and its impact on future Supreme Court rulings than about how a nominee to the highest court in the land should be treated. Her answer reveals, for her, Kavanaugh’s approach to cases takes priority over all else.
According to Alexander Bolton of The Hill, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing prior to the allegations, Senator Corey Booker stated it was his "I am Spartacus" moment when he released confidential documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time with the G. W. Bush administration. Booker was just trying to improve his image, not actually reveal anything of substance. Booker is also a potential presidential candidate for 2020.
Senator Lindsey Graham took time out of his questioning of Kavanaugh to slam the hearing as an "unethical sham," adding he hoped "y’all (the Democratic Party) never get” political power, as reported by CNN. Graham and most other Republicans were content to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor for a full vote until Senator Jeff Flake stated he would refrain from voting on Kavanaugh unless the FBI was allowed a week to investigate.
Unfortunately, it is likely less than 10 senators have considered changing their vote on Kavanaugh in the wake of these allegations. According to Audrey Carlsen and Wilson Andrews of The New York Times, Neil Gorsuch, another Trump nominee, who had no allegations of sexual assault brought against him, was confirmed 54-45 by the Senate, almost entirely by party lines. A similar situation was expected with Kavanaugh until the new allegations leaked.
Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for this state of affairs. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose to ignore former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Democrats were frustrated, and rightfully so. According to C. Eugene Emery Jr. of Politifact, despite McConnell’s claim, he was only following the precedent set out by then-Senator Joe Biden in a 1992 speech. McConnell ignored the Constitution by refusing to provide "advice and consent" for the president.
When Kavanaugh’s nomination comes to a vote, assuming the FBI investigation does not change the status quo, expect a confirmation, albeit with a smaller margin than with Gorsuch. Nothing less than hard evidence can change the hearts and minds of Republicans, and a full refutation of all allegations would have a very limited impact on Democrats. Save for a scant handful of senators, these very serious, yet unfounded, allegations have had essentially no affect on the final outcome.
Even though McConnell chose to impede Garland’s nomination, Democrats are not solving any problems by voting against nominees on party lines. American politics will only become further polarized when parties refuse to find common ground.