I do not believe Brett Kavanaugh should be stripped of an opportunity to be a United States Supreme Court Justice because of an allegation of sexual assault that occurred when he was a teenager. I shudder as I think of the lives that have been destroyed because of false allegations. Thinking of these lives stops me from jumping on the bandwagon that says mere allegations are sufficient to justify not confirming Kavanaugh. I cannot help but wonder how one will right the wrong if it is learned at some point in the future that the allegation made was indeed false. While I am a strong supporter of #MeToo, I am not naïve. Some allegations of sexual abuse and harassment are false, plain and simple. Throughout my career as a criminal defense attorney, I have defended men that were falsely accused of sexual abuse.
Additionally, I struggle with the idea of denying Kavanaugh this opportunity because he was merely a teenager when this alleged behavior occurred. Throughout our country legislators have recognized that states were doing a tremendous disservice to their youth by automatically forcing 16 and 17-year-olds into the adult criminal justice system. As a result, every state in our country has decided that 16- year-olds should not automatically be prosecuted as adults. Beginning in December of 2019, 16 and 17- year-olds in North Carolina that are accused of misdemeanors, low-level felonies and other non-violent crimes will remain in the juvenile justice system where they will receive the benefit of a model that puts an emphasis on rehabilitation while holding the juvenile accountable. In making the decision change the age in which a teenager is considered an adult in the criminal justice system, states relied on, among other things, numerous scientific studies. These studies have clearly demonstrated that teenagers have diminished self-control because their brains are not fully developed. According to these studies, diminished self-control minimizes a teenager’s ability to suppress inappropriate emotions, desires, and actions.
So, the fact that Kavanaugh was a mere teenager when the alleged event took place does weigh heavily in my mind. If there is nothing that suggests that he was a sexual predator as an adult or engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct as an adult are we to ignore that? I refuse to believe that we are so far removed that we think it is appropriate to hang our hat on a potential teenage mishap. In fact, I know that we are not that far removed. Many of us applauded and recognized Senator Ted Kennedy as one of the most effective Senators this country had despite the fact that he accidentally drove his car off a one-lane bridge into a pond, swam free, left the scene and did not report the accident to the police for at least ten hours. In his car that he abandoned was a 28-year-old woman. She was not able to escape. She died inside the car as it was fully submerged in water. Ted Kennedy was thirty-six years old when this horrific incident occurred. He was a United States Senator at the time of the incident and continued serving as a United States Senator after the incident.
Brett Kavanaugh gives us plenty of other reasons to be concerned about his ability to be fair and impartial if he is selected to sit on the United States Supreme Court. Let’s focus on those, not an allegation from three decades ago.