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Sen. Susan Collins is unmoved by political winds — that's why she should vote for Brett Kavanaugh

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By Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has long been a senator I admire – not because she is philosophically where I am, which is clearly to her Right, but because she seems like a sincere and thoughtful moderate conservative, rather one of the “finger-in-the-wind/scared-of-one’s-own-shadow” variety. As I’ve said to fellow conservatives in conversations, emails, columns, and social media posts for many years (available upon request), she’s authentically moderate, not calculatingly so. That’s admirable.

That’s why I hope and expect she will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The overwhelming bulk of the record shows he has the character, integrity, experience, qualifications, judiciousness, and knowledge to be a superb justice.

His entire professional record clearly bears that out, as we will review momentarily. Alas, it is first necessary to consider the sex-infused allegations that suddenly appeared two weeks ago, after six separate FBI background checks failed to unearth them.

Start by positing that a woman claiming to have been sexually assaulted deserves some benefit of doubt. This is absolutely not to say she enjoys the automatic, unthinking acceptance of her claims – it is to say that her claims should be considered respectfully, as if they are reasonable and legitimate; that any initial vagueness should not immediately be disqualifying; and that discrepancies within a reasonable range (but not major or outlandish ones) should initially be assumed to be resolvable in her favor.

But then, especially when the allegations are from decades earlier, especially when they are “recalled” only with legal or therapeutic help, one must at some point examine available corroborating or noncorroborating factors. Again, the one claiming to have been victimized deserves some otherwise unusual considerations. Let the accuser identify any potential witnesses, and let independent people (e.g. journalists, not litigators for the accused) interview them. Let her be able to be held nonculpable for her own inebriation, but assume the accused is responsible for his behavior while intoxicated. Let her have a very strong presumption in her favor as to what does and doesn’t qualify as “consent.”

Yet in the two main incidents allegedly involving Brett Kavanaugh, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, even under these pro-accuser standards, weighs in his favor. In both cases, the putative victim herself identified others in the room or the house, including those who were her own friends. Yet in both cases, all of her own potential witnesses (and all named second-hand sources sure of their memory) said they never knew of Kavanaugh even being at any such gathering (the Christine Blasey Ford incident) or in the room (the Yale party).

In both cases, the accuser admitted to inebriation, one of them severe – but Kavanaugh, far from asserting different “interpretations” of incidents in a mutually inebriated case, categorically denied every aspect of the stories, with the accuser's own “witnesses” backing him up.

If the accused, meanwhile, produces obviously contemporary calendars that, while not entirely dispositive, show there was very little opportunity in the summer in question for him to have attended such a gathering, and if dozens of his female friends from the period attest to his character at the time, and if more than a hundred women who have known him since then also attest to his excellent treatment of women, and if his entire professional and personal reputation was spotless after 25 years in public affairs – well, then, the evidence weighs so heavily in his favor that one must conclude the accuser is somehow mistaken in the memory it took more than 30 years to recall in the first place.

Memories, especially of traumatic events, are well known to be imperfect. There’s no reason her identification of Kavanaugh should be assumed perfect, absent other corroboration, especially with numerous factors, including her own significantly changing stories, casting doubt on her memory’s reliability.

This still is America, where, not just in a court of law but in all public affairs, guilt should not be imputed when evidence and known character point quite strongly in the other direction.

So, if we set aside, as we should, these allegations as being quite unlikely to be true, the attention should return where it should have been all along: Kavanaugh’s professional qualifications and reputation. They are, of course, superb.

Bob Woodward repeatedly portrayed Kavanaugh as the moral adult in the Starr investigation: urging that salacious material not be included in the public report; asserting that Starr’s job was not to prosecute but just to report to Congress; arguing against prosecution of a woman only tangentially related to the probe’s assigned topic; and writing the report that finally put to rest the conspiracy theory that Vince Foster has been murdered.

Kavanaugh’s integrity and judiciousness have been praised even by some of most prominent members of the liberal legal firmament. He is known as a “feeder judge” for clerks for Supreme Court justices both Right and Left; his decisions have been repeatedly affirmed, and admired, by the high court. His record of promoting women is unparalleled. While seen as judicially “conservative,” he is overwhelmingly seen as no ideologue or party man (and for conservatives like me, was only about our 12th choice for the nomination), but rather a judge perfectly willing to rule against the Republican Party when warranted.

Kavanaugh is brilliant, fair-minded, temperamentally moderate, and famously thoughtful. These attributes, and his record, should lead Sen. Collins to vote in his favor.

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Politics - U.S. Daily News: Sen. Susan Collins is unmoved by political winds — that's why she should vote for Brett Kavanaugh
Sen. Susan Collins is unmoved by political winds — that's why she should vote for Brett Kavanaugh
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