The biggest controversy surrounding the White House this past week has been the sexual assault allegations against President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
When his nomination was announced, it was almost certain that he would be confirmed despite concern that he could try to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling protecting abortion rights.
Kavanaugh’s initial hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee drew some attention.
This was due to his reluctance to definitively answer the committee’s questions on several major topics.
These topics included presidential use of the self-pardon, health-care coverage for pre-existing conditions and his relationship to a member of the Trump legal team.
Through all this, his confirmation was still almost certain.
This all changed on Sept. 16, when Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down and attempting to remove her clothes while he was drunk at a high school party in the 1980s.
Then, on Sept. 23, Deborah Ramirez, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, came forward in The New Yorker accusing him of exposing his genitals to her during a drinking game.
The first thing that must be acknowledged with this is that the burden of proof for a confirmation hearing is not the same as a criminal case.
This means that his guilt does not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Rather the accusations against Kavanaugh must present a reasonable doubt in his ability to fulfill the duties of being a United States Supreme Court justice.
So, how credible are the allegations?
On their own, neither presents a particularly strong case.
Many major details of the case cannot be corroborated by those who knew the accusers and Kavanaugh.
However, those same people have yet to present any evidence that significantly contradicts the claims of either woman accusing Kavanaugh.
Despite the idea gaining traction among some right-wing media outlets, the political alignment of the accusers is not a legitimate counter to their claims.
At this point, it seems that people have either convicted or vindicated Kavanaugh based on typical partisan lines when neither side has the evidence to truly support their arguments.
If this were a criminal case, the lack of evidence would give the advantage to the pro-Kavanaugh camp.
However, this confirmation hearing will depend much more heavily on the public’s and Senate Judiciary Committee’s perception of the allegations against Kavanaugh.
Given the pace at which this story has continued to develop, it is likely there will be more news about the Kavanaugh allegations before Ford testifies to the committee on Sept. 27.
In the event that no new damning information emerges, Ford will have to be incredibly persuasive to the committee in order for Kavanaugh to not be confirmed, as there is currently too much information left unconfirmed to make a convincing judgment.