Last week, Carson Macik defended Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 in his opinion piece “MACIK: The Kaveat,” arguing that his “conditional support” for the now-associate justice does not conflict with his genuine sympathy for Christine Blasey Ford. Predicating this “conditional support” on a lack of evidence, Macik championed Kavanaugh as a man of integrity whilst censuring Senate Democrats and their eschewing of the presumption of innocence.
Although there exist numerous flaws in Macik’s reasoning, I will address only two of them in this letter.
To begin, Macik claims that the “four corroborating witnesses that Ford listed came forward denying the allegations under penalty of felony.” This is simply false. The two male witnesses merely stated that “they didn’t recall the party as described,” while Leland Keyser, the only corroborating female witness, has stated that she believes Ford (with the fourth witness being Kavanaugh himself). Furthermore, Ford even acknowledges that those present that night likely wouldn’t recall it, seeing as how, for everyone else, it was a rather “unremarkable party.”
Macik also seems troubled by the #MeToo movement’s possible consequences for the wrongly accused. Let us set aside, for a brief moment, the fact that false accusations are exceedingly rare (and typically only come from teens and those with a history of fraud). I’m not currently aware of anyone arguing that men should face jail time on the basis of accusations alone. #MeToo is not concerned with the imprisonment of all individuals simply accused of sexual misconduct. Rather, the movement focuses on elevating the experiences of survivors and on removing dangerous men from positions of power.
Therefore, the presumption of innocence isn’t the issue here. Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, Al Franken; these men do not face criminal charges.
It seems to me that there should be higher standards for holding a position of power than there are for criminal trials. We risk significantly less by denying someone a prestigious job than we do when we deprive a man of his liberty, especially when a myriad of other well-qualified candidates exists. Therefore, the burden of proof should be significantly greater in a court of law. However, Macik argues just the opposite.
Outside courts of law, accusations, false or not, do not ruin lives. Even if the Senate had voted against Kavanaugh in light of Ford’s allegations, he still would have had a lifetime appointment to the second highest court in the land. Men like Johnny Depp and Louis C.K. continue to accumulate wealth and fame despite the credible accusations levelled against them. The current consequences are clearly insufficient.
Macik’s equivocation of criminal courts to courts of opinion and their social consequences is patently absurd. And although he may be well-intentioned, Mr. Macik’s sympathy for survivors is completely meaningless without tangible action. Kavanaugh does not deserve anyone’s support, conditional or otherwise. We must do better.
Ian Moreau is a sophomore in Pierson College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .