Should Kavanaugh be Judged by Criminal Standard of Guilt?

Backers say the Supreme Court nominee is innocent until proved guilty. Critics say accusers of sexual assault should be believed. Will a third woman make a sex misconduct charge?

In the Senate standoff over confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, two paradigms are hurtling toward each other: the age-old standard that someone must be presumed innocent until proved guilty, and the new #MeToo social norm that accusers of sexual assault should be believed. One standard would absolve Judge Kavanaugh; the other could doom his nomination, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), told “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “I think it’s really important, in this time, in this day, that we recognize when women speak out, that we should presume that they are innocent.” Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), said the standard for Kavanaugh should be “innocent until proven guilty.”

The criminal standard is “not applicable” here, maintains Lisa Graves, a former aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The consequence of believing accuser Christine Blasey Ford is not that Kavanaugh would go to jail. It’s that he would lose the opportunity to ascend to the high court for a lifetime appointment. The burden is on the nominee, Graves says, “to establish that he or she should be trusted with this enormous power.” Ford and Kavanaugh will testify to senators Thursday. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation of former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a dormitory party.  A third woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct soon will come forward, according to Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels, reports USA Today.