Monday . 18 March . 2019
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Opinion | Why We Need an F.B.I. Investigation

What evidence is there, if any, of Dr. Blasey’s motives in bringing these accusations? For her, coming forward with this accusation is itself extraordinary, exposing her to the opprobrium of Judge Kavanaugh’s supporters. Is her story plausible? In the abstract, the claim is certainly credible — a boozy party, a young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time bumps into two drunk young men as she makes her way to the bathroom. The other man in the room, Mark Judge, a friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s at the time, has said doesn’t recall the night, though through his writing, he has lent credence to the sort of atmospherics that surround the accusation. His memoir, “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” recalls his blackout drinking as a teenage alcoholic in those years.

What about the timing of Professor Blasey’s accusations? Was this a recent contrivance? Is she is now misremembering? The #MeToo movement has made clear why some women did not come forward about sexual assault. Women’s accusations were dismissed; the culture legitimized a “boys will be boys” atmosphere. There seemed to be nowhere to turn, whether it was the police or school officials.

Was it unreasonable for Dr. Blasey to remain silent during the several years that Mr. Kavanaugh’s 2003 nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was stalled in Congress? How much did she know about the progress of his career? The fact that she related her accusation to her husband and her therapist in 2012, long before Judge Kavanaugh was in the news as a Supreme Court nominee, counts for her credibility, but the Senate needs to know, in detail, what she said to them.

Judge Kavanaugh has denied the accusation, vehemently. And it is significant that no other accusers have stepped forward. Many of the #MeToo accusations have involved “he said, she said, she said, she said.” In this case, dozens of women apparently have vouched for his character. The F.B.I. should interview them. For instance, they might ask whether he ever talked about his sexual exploits to peers at the time? What else can the F.B.I. find out about the judge that bears on his credibility? Democrats have claimed he misrepresented his work while he was in the George W. Bush White House in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee. Or, significantly, what other information did earlier background checks turn up about the judge that the F.B.I. did not pursue?

An appointment to the Supreme Court is not an entitlement. The background investigation I underwent for a District Court judgeship was probing. Shouldn’t the inquiry for a potential Supreme Court justice be more so? After all, this a position of life tenure that demands moral leadership as the court shapes American law for what is likely to be decades to come.

It is in everyone’s interest that this nomination not proceed under a cloud.

Nancy Gertner is a lecturer at Harvard Law School and a retired Federal District Court judge.

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