- New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss was criticised online Tuesday after questioning whether sexual-assault accusations should disqualify Judge Brett Kavanaugh from serving on the Supreme Court.
- Weiss, a conservative, said she believed the allegations against Kavanaugh – allegations he’s aggressively denied.
- But she argued they may not be enough to prevent him from sitting on the highest court in the country.
New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss was criticised Tuesday after questioning whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be disqualified from serving on the Supreme Court if sexual-assault allegations made against him are true.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Weiss argued that the fundamental “ethical question” at issue is whether someone should be disqualified from sitting on the court because of a crime they committed as a teenager.
She suggested that she believed the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford, the 51-year-old psychology professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school. But Weiss questioned whether they amounted to making Kavanaugh unfit to serve.
“What about the deeper, moral, cultural … the ethical question here?” Weiss said. “Let’s say he did this exactly as she said. Should the fact that a 17-year-old, presumably very drunk kid, did this, should this be disqualifying? That’s the question at the end of the day, isn’t it?”
Weiss added that Ford’s allegations, which Kavanaugh has “unequivocally” denied, don’t fit a pattern – as many other instances of men who commit sexual misconduct do – and that the accusations can’t be proved.
“Brett Kavanaugh has a reputation as being a prince of a man, frankly, other than this,” she said. “Now, I believe her. I believe what she’s saying. I’m just saying, in the end of the day, it is one word against another.”
MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle pushed back, arguing that the standards should be higher for someone nominated for a lifetime position on the highest court in the country.
“We’re not talking about should he be disqualified to be a dogcatcher,” Ruhle said. “We’re talking about to be a Supreme Court justice.”
Ruhle went on: “What if this is the moment to finally say, ‘You know what, let’s actually take a stand,’ and not say, ‘This is life, people get drunk’ – yikes – and actually move in another direction and say, ‘This does disqualify you. Let’s find another pick.'”
Weiss then seemed to back away from her assertion, but lamented that Kavanaugh’s “worst instance” was being “paraded” in public.
“I guess I’m thinking of it today from the perspective of, let’s all think about our worst instance that’s happened to us in this world and imagine it paraded out in front of the country,” Weiss said. “And that most men we know – it’s a horrible reality.”
Liberal critics immediately jumped on Weiss’ comments.
Mark Joseph Stern, a lawyer and writer for Slate, calledWeiss’ question a “useless and irrelevant red herring” and argued that the question is not whether an adult should be held accountable for something they did as a teenager, but whether Kavanaugh lied about the allegations. If Weiss’ intuition is correct and Ford is telling the truth about the incident, then Kavanaugh has wrongly undermined a victim, he said.
“It is perfectly consistent to believe that nobody’s life should be ruined for committing a crime at age 17 – and that any adult who lies about that crime should not be elevated to the Supreme Court,” he wrote.
Some other reactions:
Bari Weiss askin’ the big important questions before Yom Kippur. Questions like: hey, should drunkenly trying to rape someone mean you shouldn’t be made one of the most powerful people in the country?
A real stumper, folks. https://t.co/IttWwtgxND
— Rafi Schwartz (@TheJewishDream) September 18, 2018
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