September 27, 2018
By Phil Quin
If you’re one of millions tuning into tomorrow’s high stakes hearing on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, don’t be fooled into thinking what you witness is remotely typical of such deliberations. The process by which the 22 members of the Senate Judiciary committee plan to hear evidence from Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is anything but normal.
The Republican majority, terrified of how the sight of 11 elderly white men grilling the victim of an alleged sexual assault will play among crucial women voters in November, has rewritten the rulebook in unprecedented ways. To avoid such a damming spectacle, committee chairman Chuck Grassley, an octogenarian from Iowa, conscripted a female prosecutor to probe the witnesses on behalf of the frail, stale, pale males on the GOP side. What’s more, he unilaterally slashed questioning time to just one round of five minutes each for Democrats on the committee, no doubt fearful of the damage experienced prosecutors like Kamala Harris of California and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar are likely to inflict on the besieged nominee.
Acceding to Ford’s request, Grassley also limited media presence at the hearing room and authorised only a single camera to broadcast proceedings. Overall, when you consider the Committee’s refusal to call witnesses who may corroborate or otherwise the events Ford describes, along with the White House’s refusal to instruct the FBI to conduct a separate investigation into the claims (as is normal practice), it’s clear Republicans much prefer damage control to due process.
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