Last year, when Christine Blasey Ford emerged after then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to accuse him of attempted rape at a house party when both were teenagers, there were many unanswered questions both about her story and her credibility.
She offered no proof that she and Kavanaugh had ever even met. She couldn’t remember where it happened, when it happened, or how she arrived at or departed from the party. None of the four alleged witnesses she eventually named, including one of her closest lifelong friends, corroborated her accusations. Prior to airing her allegations with the media, she scrubbed her entire social media history that indicated she was a liberal activist.
To this day, there is zero evidence beyond her claims that the alleged assault ever happened. One detail, however, remains particularly intriguing. The Blasey family stayed conspicuously silent about the veracity of her allegations. A public letter of support for Ford that began “As members of Christine Blasey Ford’s family . . .” wasn’t signed by a single blood relative. Reached for comment by the Washington Post, her father simply said, “I think all of the Blasey family would support her. I think her record stands for itself. Her schooling, her jobs and so on,” before hanging up…………………
So what was the point of the cavalcade of unsubstantiated allegations? Ford’s attorney Debra Katz offered not so much a hint as a confession. Ford testified that she had no political motivation. But in remarks captured on video, Katz admitted that Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh were at least in part driven by fear he might not sufficiently support unregulated abortion on the court.
“We were going to have a conservative” justice, she said, “but he will always have an asterisk next to his name” that will discredit any decision he makes regarding abortion. What’s more, she added, “that is part of what motivated Christine.”
Even before attorney Debra Katz took on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, as a client, she was someone the abusive and unscrupulous should have feared. At least, that’s how she was portrayed in the press.
“Those who know and have worked with Katz describe her as a meticulous and battle-tested attorney, as someone who vets her clients carefully and doesn’t take on cases merely because she sympathizes with victims of exploitation and abuse,” the Washington Post glowed. The Washingtonian described Katz as the capital’s “top attorney for women who want to fight back.” And that’s not a burden she took lightly. Litigating sexual harassment cases “hurts people in such a deep way,” she confessed. “We need to be fighting harder, and more strategically and more vocally.”
Katz was a serious person, and congressional Republicans took her seriously. Blasey Ford’s attorney made a variety of demands on the Judiciary Committee staffers who were slated to question her client, some of which were absurd but others—like her request for Blasey Ford to testify without Kavanaugh present and to be questioned by outside counsel and not lawmakers—were granted. These were small concessions in service to what Katz insisted was the effort to get to the truth. “Intention matters,” the lawyer told CBS News, “if we’re trying to really engage in an inquiry to get at the truth, a highly politicized environment such as the one were in is not designed to do that.”
As it turns out, Katz wasn’t as opposed to a “highly politicized environment” as she maintained. “In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court,” Katz told attendees at the University of Baltimore’s Feminist Legal Theory Conference this past April. “He will always have an asterisk next to his name. When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him. And that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”
Only someone with a lawyer’s gift for prevarication could fail to comprehend Katz’s meaning. In this textbook definition of the Kinsley gaffe, Katz has revealed that not only was she motivated to litigate the claims against Kavanaugh for the advantageous political effect they would have but that her client was, too. And what was that desired effect? Affixing an “asterisk” to Kavanaugh’s record so that his judgments and decisions would be regarded as animated by biases and prejudices and would be, therefore, suspect if not entirely illegitimate.
This is an admission entirely against interest, in part, because you do not have to announce the presence of an asterisk if it truly exists. The Democratic partisans who insist Justice Clarence Thomas has been similarly undermined are screaming into a void. His concurrences and dissents still carry as much moral and intellectual weight as any other justice. He still influences the evolution of legal thought as much as or more than his colleagues on the bench. His clerks still get confirmed to federal judicial appointments in striking numbers. The notion that Kavanaugh’s reputation had been irreparably tarred in some way by his confirmation hearings isn’t an observation. It’s a self-affirmation.”