Kamala Harris: ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Standard Does Not Apply to Kavanaugh; Ford’s Sex Assault Charge Does Not Need to Be Proven

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is touted to be one of the lead questioners should a new hearing be scheduled to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said in an interview with the Daily Beast that Ford’s (uncorroborated) allegations of Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her at a drunken high school pool party decades ago do not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for Kavanugh to be denied a seat on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questioning Judge Brett Kavanaugh at Senate hearing earlier this month, image via screen grab.

The Daily Beast article, headlined “They Oversaw Sex-Crime Cases, Now They’ll Grill Kavanaugh” names Harris and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as the two senators set to take charge of the questioning for the Democrats because they are women and have a background of prosecuting sex crimes.


Harris’ claim that the criminal court standard for conviction of proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not apply to Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, while constitutionally accurate, also sets a precedent that vague uncorroborated charges of decades old alleged high school misbehavior is enough to ruin a man or woman and destroy their professional careers.

Harris’ quotes from the Daily Beast (Note that Sen. Harris dismissively refers to Judge Kavanaugh as, “this guy”.):

“There’s a distinction between what we need to do as members of the Senate—we have a constitutional responsibility to advise and consent—versus the role of a criminal court, which would be to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt,” Harris, who only joined the committee in January, said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Because the consequence of that is going to prison.”

Harris, who served as San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general over a 25-year career as a prosecutor, specialized in child sexual-assault cases early in her career. Later, she focused her efforts on curbing sexual misconduct on college campuses. In 2016, when she was serving as attorney general, she slammed the judge who sentenced Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who was convicted of sexual assault, to just six months behind bars. She said the victim was denied “dignity.”

“In this situation, let’s be clear about this, this is about whether or not this guy should get a promotion. That’s the inquiry. And we do not have the burden of proving this beyond a reasonable doubt,” added Harris, who said this week that she believes Ford’s allegations. “This is about whether he has the judgment, the character, and the suitability to serve a lifetime appointment on the highest court. Which is a court that has, as its purpose and responsibility, to be the purveyor of justice.”

Harris’ no-holds-barred attitude both as a prosecutor and as a politician has launched her into the 2020 presidential spotlight, and she has rarely missed opportunities to put herself on the map as a suitable challenger to President Donald Trump. A Democratic aide familiar with the planning said the senator is expected to “take no prisoners” when or if she gets the chance to interrogate Kavanaugh again.”

An op-ed published Friday by the Washington Post written by Caprice Roberts, a visiting professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, supported Harris’ position on reasonable doubt, flatly stating that Kavanaugh’s “guilt or innocence is not the issue”.

Yes, Kavanaugh is entitled to fairness and impartiality. But when it comes to process, let’s be clear: If Ford testifies before the Judiciary Committee, if committee staffers interview her privately or if she puts her story on the official Senate record in some other way, senators aren’t tasked with measuring her accusation or Kavanaugh’s denial by the familiar “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard applied in criminal proceedings, or with rendering a verdict of guilty or not.

Rather, the purpose of Supreme Court confirmation hearings is to allow senators to provide “advice and consent” on the president’s nominees for the nation’s highest court. Whether or not there’s conclusive proof of the alleged assault, every senator is entitled to vote yes or no on elevating Kavanaugh from his current position as a federal appeals court judge to the pinnacle of American law based on their individual, subjective assessments of whatever testimony is provided. Senators also, properly, weigh their constituents’ views on the nominee and the testimony. Even if senators aren’t sure what, if anything, happened between Ford and Kavanaugh, if they think the accusation is probable, or even plausible, and decide that it’s too great a risk to put a maybe-sexual-assaulter on the high court, they’re entitled to vote no. If they believe that Kavanaugh lied under oath in answers to written or oral questions related to any part of the confirmation process, they’re entitled to vote no.

…Kavanaugh’s public hearings, then, and any inquiry now into the accusations against him, are less like a trial and more like a high-stakes job interview — and this job comes with life tenure. The main point of the hearings is to determine the nominee’s fitness for the post. Senators evaluate judicial qualifications, record, demeanor and philosophy. Modern judicial nominees undergo in­cred­ibly thorough vetting in preparation because they know that senators may also explore every aspect of their past. Allegations of sexual misconduct fall well within the scope of relevant considerations. Because guilt or innocence isn’t the issue, but instead fitness for the Supreme Court, the burden of proof isn’t, and shouldn’t be, on Ford, the accuser; it remains on Kavanaugh.

Proof yet again of the Rush Limbaugh rule on the media and Democrats’ smears of Republicans:

It’s not the nature of the evidence, it’s the seriousness of the charge.

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