Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade: Kavanaugh Partisan Defense “So Inappropriate”

Jake Neher/WDET

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade

Thursday could not have been more pivotal in the supreme Court nomination process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, or for the discussion about sexual violence in America. The nation got its first chance to hear directly from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s. And the nation saw Kavanaugh absolutely unravel in his response — an angry tirade against what he called a left-wing conspiracy to derail his supreme court appointment.

The American Bar Association, which had already given Kavanaugh its coveted “highly qualified” rating, now says it would like the Senate to pause to allow for the FBI to investigate further.

I think he has harmed the integrity of any court that he sits” by expressing partisanship in this way, says former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade, who adds Kavanaugh impartiality is now in question for rest of his career. ”If there’s a vote today, the vote needs to be ‘no.’”

The reason you don’t hear judicial nominees strike such partisan tones, “is because it’s so inappropriate,” says McQuade.

After Sen. Jeff Flake called for a one-week FBI investigation into Ford’s claim against Kavanaugh, McQuade tweeted:

Survivors of sexual violence across the country are left wondering whether what happened on Thursday marks progress, or a terrible setback, in the ongoing moment of reckoning that has been unfolding around the way men, and women, and sex, all interact in our culture.

Carly Mee, interim director of SurvJustice — a national non-profit which advocates for survivors of sexual violence — joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about what the hearing and the entire confirmation process illustrates about issues of sexual violence in America.

Mee says she doesn’t think much has changed in Washington D.C. since Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas in 1992.

I don’t see any steps that have been taken to more properly educate senators about how to question sexual assault survivors.”

Mee says she understands why GOP leadership hired a female prosecutor and sexual crimes specialist, Rachel Mitchell, to lead their questioning of Ford. But she says the optics weren’t good.

The fact that they brought in a prosecutor… it suggested that perhaps that she was the one on trial,” says Mee. “It wasn’t a trial at all, it was a job interview… for Brett Kavanaugh.”

To hear more from Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

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