A Massillon judge and a professor at Kent State University at Stark both said they believe U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh will survive sexual misconduct allegations from more than three decades ago and be confirmed to serve on the high court.
Municipal Court Judge Edward Elum said Republicans in the U.S. Senate seem to have the votes necessary to confirm Kavanaugh, who he called a “well-respected, fair and honest jurist.”
“This was to be a slam-dunk nomination,” Elum said. “These (accusations and confirmation hearings) have to be weighing on him.”
Andrew Povtak, an adjunct political science professor at KSU Stark, said it could be political suicide for Republican senators not to push Kavanaugh through their skin-tight majority. It’s also no secret that the GOP wants more conservatives on the court.
“To admit defeat and withdraw would do massive damage with their own base,” Povtak said.
Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old federal appeals court judge, is facing accusations from three women who claim he engaged in inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with them in the early 1980s. The first to accuse the judge, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
“Allegedly, he did some stupid things in (high school and) college — who didn’t?” Elum said. “But these women have the right to make their say and tell their story.”
The idea brought forth by Democrats, having the FBI further investigate Kavanaugh and the accusations brought forth by Ford, would not be a prudent course, Elum said.
“These (FBI) guys are chasing terrorists, Russian spies and Chinese technology. They can’t dig up things 35 years ago,” the judge said.
‘Me Too’ and social media
In Povtak’s view, social media and the “Me Too” movement have provided an avenue for victims of sexual assault to tell their story publicly and be taken more seriously.
“Me Too” grew in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media, in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and/or harassment, mainly in the workplace.
“If there’s even a question (about sexual misconduct), it’s something you have to deal with now,” he said.
Bringing forth allegations that are three or four decades old is also relevant today, said Povtak. Many victims feel as though they’ve been silenced for way too long, he added.
Accusations should be taken more seriously for a Supreme Court nominee, Povtak said, as Kavanaugh — if confirmed — will be making federal law on topics such as health care, national security and women’s issues.
In fact, Povtak said, it may be more difficult for many men, and perhaps some women, to run for high political office due to the impact of the “Me Too” movement and more people speaking out against sexual predators.
“The hope is if you have things in your background, think twice about running for office,” he said. “It’s more of a liability now than in the past.”