Chris Powell: Abortion and the Kavanaugh-Ford hysteria

Christine Blasey Ford in her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Christine Blasey Ford in her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


According to Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has no reason to lie by claiming that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 or so years ago when they were in high school. But by making her accusation so late -- not just decades after the supposed incident but years after Kavanaugh was nominated as a federal judge and only upon his nomination to the Supreme Court -- Blasey Ford has entered politics, and everyone in politics has reason to lie or exaggerate.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Blasey Ford is lying or exaggerating. Any accusation of sexual misbehavior against a teenage boy is plausible. This means only that whatever may have happened decades ago did not bother Blasey Ford enough to complain about it until it could be used to stop Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court. As she is a liberal Democrat while Kavanaugh is a conservative Republican presumed to be skeptical of the court's precedent in the abortion case of Roe v. Wade, Blasey Ford well could be doubly bothered.

This follows the pattern set by Anita Hill's accusation of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas upon his nomination to the Supreme Court, in 1991. Hill had worked for Thomas at two federal agencies in Washington and followed him from one agency to the other so she could continue working for him even after the supposed harassment began. For years after she left government employment, Hill maintained cordial relations with Thomas, even seeking and receiving help from him. Hill did not complain about Thomas until liberals opposed him for the Supreme Court out of fear that, as a conservative Republican, he would tilt the court against abortion rights.

Of course this didn't make Hill a liar or exaggerator either. But it put her into politics too and thus gave her reason to lie or exaggerate, just as Blasey Ford entered politics by joining the opposition to Kavanaugh only when abortion rights were again in question. Blasey Ford has even said that if Kavanaugh were confirmed she would have to move to New Zealand. Only her politics would require that.

But far from handicapping her, Hill's belated accusation against Thomas made her a celebrity and won her a career as a law professor and liberal heroine. Blasey Ford can expect something similar.

By contrast, Kavanaugh, like Thomas, can expect only to be forever suspected as some sort of sex criminal. Maybe Kavanaugh will deserve it -- as long as the country has resolved that youthful misbehavior can never be forgiven no matter how long ago it happened and that people who haven't grown up by age 17 can never grow up. If so, Connecticut should eliminate secrecy for its juvenile courts and all the probationary gimmicks that erase convictions in adult court.

The hysteria over the accusations against Kavanaugh has destroyed all standards of politics and journalism and is threatening to destroy legal standards. To prevent another conservative vote on the Supreme Court, the most defamatory and unsupported allegations, along with hearsay and rumor, once barred by the old rules of fairness and libel are being sensationally published and broadcast by news organizations in their crazed search for anyone who can disparage the nominee's character as it might have been 36 years ago.

This is being done by institutions that had no trouble excusing the contemporaneous sexual misbehavior in office, of Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, and Bill Clinton, all Democrats who, perhaps not surprisingly, were sure that the Bill of Rights covered abortion.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.