Rich Lowry: Accuser should be heard, not automatically believed

Lilly Ledbetter, an activist for workplace equality, left, is joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as they address demonstrators opposed to President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in front of the Supreme Court, in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Christine Blasey Ford deserves a hearing, although at the moment it's not clear if she really wants one. What she doesn't deserve is to be believed automatically just because she's a woman making an accusation.

At its best, our system of justice judges each individual — the accuser and the accused — on the basis of the evidence and with an adversarial process that has proved over the centuries to be the best way to ascertain the truth.

The problem is that Ford's accusation doesn't seem particularly provable, and the Democratic-media complex isn't very interested in proving it. It wants to take her truthfulness as a given, as a matter of cosmic and gender equity.

"I believe the survivor," says Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. It would be accurate for him to say, "I believe Ford is a survivor." But the point is to take rhetorical and political advantage of her alleged victimhood before it has been established — indeed, to use her assumed victimhood to foreclose any serious questioning of whether she is a victim or not.

We're seeing, in effect, the importation of the kangaroo court colleges use to adjudicate such cases to the United States Senate.

With no independent knowledge of whether Ford's account is true, Blumenthal is a hanging judge. "This nomination will not only cast a shadow over Judge Kavanaugh, if he were ever to be confirmed," he says, "it will also stain the United States Supreme Court irreparably."

There you have it. The court weathered Roger Taney, but will be forever besmirched by Brett Kavanaugh.

If we aren't going to assume Kavanaugh's guilt, we have to be willing to challenge Ford's story. But we're told this is risky, or out of bounds.

Sen. John Cornyn noted Ford's fuzzy memory, and — in a hardly inflammatory sentiment — concluded, "There are some gaps there that need to be filled." Chris Cillizza of CNN deemed these kind of queries "walking a VERY dangerous line."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York pronounced: "By refusing to treat her allegations properly" — her otherworldly description of an invitation to Ford to testify in an open or closed setting — "and by playing games to protect Kavanaugh's nomination, they're telling women across the country that they're not to be believed. That they are worth less than a man's promotion."

No, the message to women — and to men — is that it's important to try to find the truth before crediting an accusation. This once was a tenet of liberalism, back when it celebrated the Arthur Miller play "The Crucible" and supported the old-school American Civil Liberties Union. Now, "liberal" means braying for collective justice to right historic wrongs.

Matthew Dowd of ABC News opined: "If this is 'he said, she said,' then let's believe that 'she' in these scenarios. She has nothing to gain, and everything to lose. For 250 years we have believed the 'he' in these scenarios. Enough is enough."

This is a ringing call for people to subordinate their reason and moral discernment to a social and political agenda. Not all women are to believed, whatever the patriarchy's past sins. The Duke lacrosse players weren't guilty. The University of Virginia fraternity story wasn't true. The Columbia University student who carried a mattress around as a symbol of her alleged rape falsely accused her supposed assailant.

This obviously doesn't mean that women should be disbelieved, either. It does mean accusations of sexual misconduct — like any other accusation — should be evaluated case by case, and on the facts. This isn't victimizing the accusers. It is serving the cause of justice.

Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii captured the left’s current mood when she said, “I want to say to the men of this country: Shut up and just step up and do the right thing.” This says more about her — and her own suitability for high office — than Brett Kavanaugh. He has no obligation to shut up — even if about half his Senate audience is losing its interest in due process or fair play.

Rich Lowry Courtesy photo

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. comments.lowry@nationalreview.com

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