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Letters: So many angles to Brett Kavanaugh controversy

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27. Credit: AP / Andrew Harnik

Newsday has received dozens of letters about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Here is a sampling. For more letters, go to newsday.com/opinion.

As an attorney for more than 47 years, I’ve found the search for the truth is primarily done by cross examination. With common sense, we measure what is being stated with what one would normally say and how they would act. The right questions must be asked. They were not in Christine Blasey Ford’s examination [“Supreme drama,” News, Sept. 28].

She was not asked to describe Brett Kavanaugh at the time of the alleged attack. Did he have long or short hair? Did he wear short or long sleeves? What color was his clothing? The answers could be compared with how others described the accused. Did the bedroom have one or two beds? Did her parents know where she was? She remembered the accused talking and bumping into the staircase wall, but not how she got home. Who drove her is crucial, as the driver could attest to her demeanor, the date, place, and who if anyone was with her.

These and other questions could have been asked in a noncombative manner and would have shed light on her memories and whether her answers rang true. Hopefully, the FBI will do the job. Otherwise, everything will remain “he said, she said.”

Martin Julius, East Meadow

Brett Kavanaugh’s performance in front of the whole nation was a demonstration of guilt and an insult to the position of a Supreme Court justice. The whole situation was staged, with his dutiful wife sitting behind him with a pained expression and his mention of his daughter praying for “that woman.” He showed extreme disrespect for the Senate Judiciary Committee and bullied a female senator. Maybe Melania Trump ought to bring her anti-bullying campaign to Congress to teach members how to recognize outrageous and unacceptable behavior.

Gesa Boughal, Sayville

Thank the Lord that we still have a Constitution that guarantees a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

However, let’s just wait until the progressives take charge. They won’t allow this nuisance of a notion get in their way, as evidenced these past two weeks.

Jay Matuk, Miller Place

I feel compelled to respond to a reader whose letter about Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations asked, “Who hasn’t had an experience like this in high school and college? Get over yourself and get on with your life.”

That statement is an insult to boys and men who have never taken advantage of girls or women while sober or drunk.

I’m glad that if this happened to you, it didn’t have any lasting effect. Not everyone is that fortunate.

Barbara Bolger, Bayport

If you don’t understand Brett Kavanaugh’s anger and outrage, why not reach out to the students of the Duke University lacrosse team who were falsely accused of rape in 2006? Ask them about their anger and frustration. They weren’t yet grown men with families of their own.

If further investigation finds no proof to support Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation, would the Newsday editorial board and Democrats support perjury charges against her?

Nelson Hunter, Greenlawn

It was disturbing to read a letter from a woman who equated Christine Blasey Ford’s description of sexual assault with not enjoying a party. Anyone who questions why women can take years to come forward with allegations of abuse should reread this letter. The victim blaming and shaming are stunning.

I can understand men misinterpreting the #MeToo movement as an assault on their characters when it is actually directed at our culture of allowing powerful men to abuse those less powerful. I can understand why men might not grasp the extent of the assault problem since the most of these acts are against young women. I can even see why men can’t sometimes understand the emotional and social forces that keep women silent.

However, I will never understand another woman dismissing this sort of trauma. You might believe Brett Kavanaugh was too young to be responsible for his actions (an attitude that rarely extends to minority young men), but to ridicule the victim is shameless. Most women with whom I have spoken since Ford came forward had a high school or college experience of being physically assaulted to varying degrees by a schoolmate, teacher or male adult she trusted. Most never reported it. You can choose not to believe the accuser, but don’t add to the abuse by belittling the victim.

Cynthia Lovecchio,Glen Cove

Your Sept. 28 front-page headline said, “FBI to probe Kavanaugh.” I trust that includes investigating Christine Blasey Ford in an equal way.

Mike Brody, Roslyn Heights

Your Sept. 28 editorial, “Delay the vote on Kavanaugh,” was one of the most partisan I have ever read in Newsday. Is your editorial board working for the Democratic National Committee? I watched the same hearing your editors did, and while I agree that Christine Blasey Ford showed poise, she mentioned nothing new that offered any insight. Yet Newsday was quick to canonize her as a heroine. In contrast, Newsday painted Judge Brett Kavanaugh as an angry partisan.

I would ask Newsday’s editors how they would feel if their names were dragged through the mud, and private details of their lives were made public, embarrassing their families. All this is over uncorroborated and unsubstantiated accusations, a dirty political ploy by the Senate Democrats.

Newsday’s editorial page was quick to call out the GOP over its wrongful handling of Merrick Garland (it was right to do), but it seems Newsday thinks that Republicans play dirty.

Christopher Lindsley, Oceanside

I have serious concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for the Supreme Court. An associate justice should be ethical and truthful. It appears that Kavanaugh was devious and may have lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He testified to drinking in high school in 1982, when he was 17. He stated, “The drinking age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal.” (In general, Kavanaugh was right about high school seniors in Washington, where he attended high school; the District of Columbia did not raise its legal age from 18 to 21 until 1986.)

His family lived in Maryland. In July 1982, when he was 17, that state raised the legal age from 18 to 21. His statement that he was legal to drink is misleading. Kavanaugh was knowingly violating Maryland law if he drank alcohol there before Feb. 12, 1983, when he turned 18 as a high school senior.

Kavanaugh entered Yale at age 18 in the fall of 1983, the year the legal age in Connecticut was raised from 19 to 20. So if he drank alcohol in his first semesters at Yale, Kavanaugh was violating Connecticut law.

The question is whether a nominee who has lied or misled senators and the public should be confirmed for the Supreme Court.

Jacques Wolfner, Plainview

To all men who believe Christine Blasey Ford’s story, shame on you if you have not stood up for her and all women who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Those women are wives, daughters, granddaughters, sisters and mothers.

At age 77, I am a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister — and a victim of sexual assault.

Between the ages of 12 to about 16, I was assaulted by four men: our family doctor, an older cousin, a father figure friend and a neighbor. At 16, a teacher also tried to assault me, but I had learned how to say no, and fortunately for me, he listened — but I’m quite sure there were other girls in other classes who were not as lucky as me. Please keep Brett Kavanaugh from becoming a Supreme Court justice.

Myra Liguori, Shirley

It is disturbing for a #HimToo movement to emerge on the eve of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. Many women have been victimized by men and are finally sharing their darkest secrets. While a few men may have been been falsely accused, the vast majority apparently have been guilty of their crimes. We should not treat their situations as comparable to women’s.

Brett Kavanaugh’s shameful performance exposed him as an out-of-control, nasty, highly partisan bully whose evasive answers and apparent lies portray him as someone who shouldn’t be a judge on any court, let alone the highest in the land.

If Christine Blasey Ford had behaved that way, she would have been torn to shreds. To paraphrase a TV commentator, after that performance would you even hire him as a baby sitter?

We have to create a culture where this kind of behavior toward women is unacceptable. We are on our way, thanks to the #MeToo movement. It is way, way past due.

Alice Sprintzen, Syosset

The Supreme Court nomination fight has been wrenching. I am most disheartened by Americans’ growing reluctance to allow facts to inform their views. This weekend, I overheard an older woman tell her companion, “If it really happened, she would have called her best friend and said, ‘Guess what happened last night?’ That’s what women do.”

That is inaccurate. People — women and men — do not breathlessly gather their friends to gossip about an assault. Victims of abuse typically do not share what happened. Experts in this field have made clear most victims do not report for many years, if ever at all. Similarly, experts in memory and the brain have explained how victims of trauma can remember in great detail certain aspects of their experience while forgetting others.

We should listen to those with knowledge on the topics we are so eager to have opinions about. However, in this hyper-polarized climate, the side whose opinion is supported by facts accepts them, and the side whose opinion is contradicted ignores them. We put the facts in the backseat, and let our opinions drive. It’s difficult to see how this gets us anywhere.

Lisa Castillo, New Hyde Park

About a month after his confirmation in 1937, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black acknowledged he had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, saying he dropped out in 1925 before running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama.

Is this past indiscretion any different from what Brett Kavanaugh is accused of — whether he did it or not?

What goes for one person seeking the position should be the same for the other one. Kavanaugh is being railroaded. What kind of justice is this?

Bernard Fradkin, Jericho

If Brett Kavanaugh believes himself to be innocent of the accusations by Christine Blasey Ford, his tearful, angry and indignant opening statement was certainly understandable. I felt compassion for him and for his wife. However, once the questioning began, given his many years as a judge and as a nominee for the highest court, he should have been able to conduct himself with restraint and with respect for all members of the committee, however difficult that would be. The fact that he was unable to control his anger, his open disrespect for Democratic members, and his obvious contempt for the process of valid questions and answers demonstrate a lack of judicial temperament and an inability to put the needs of the public before his own.

We may never know the truth about Ford’s allegations, but we did see his behavior. This alone should be disqualifying for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.

Eileen Toomey, Huntington Station

In our time, it is truly pathetic that women are left ashamed, belittled and do not feel they can report felonious activities. It is unfortunate it takes a Supreme Court nomination to reveal accusations of this kind of misconduct, but kudos to those who are standing up to be heard.

Our country is in the midst of incivility on many counts, but sexual predators who hide behind drinking and adolescence as excuses for their misdeeds are sad. We can only hope that a few Republican senators have the courage — and that word should not have to be used in these cases — to stand up for what is morally correct. Our country has never been perfect, but its moral code is still is an example to the world. I find it difficult to believe that Brett Kavanaugh, who appeared to lie about other topics in front of the Senate, will receive confirmation. He showed his true colors when he tried to buffalo his accusers and the committee by ranting, crying and lying. He should not only be rejected for this appointment, but be removed from the federal bench after this performance.

Gary Levine, Hauppauge

The hearings on nominee Brett Kavanaugh show how abysmally split our country has become.

Despite agreement on extending the FBI’s background check, a committee vote of 11-10 along party lines on the nomination attests to the division; so does Kavanaugh’s partisan claim that there is a plot to smear him because the Democrats lost the 2016 election and the Clintons want revenge for the judge’s role in Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceeding. Witness also the disparate emotional opinions proffered in letters to Newsday.

Some significant realities are rationally unchallengeable, however. Kavanaugh’s belligerent, petulant nonanswers to senators’ questions cast doubt on his temperament. Can he be judicial as a possible justice?

Christine Blassey Ford’s testimony was acclaimed by many as credible and heartfelt. Thanks to Sen. Jeff Flake, the FBI is charged to investigate other witnesses.

Will the FBI get free rein, as President Donald Trump says, to investigate fully wherever the facts lead? Can the Senate subpoena Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge and other crucial witnesses?

A lack of transparency should not cleave us further into warring factions. Now is the time for reason and civility.

Hank Cierski, Port Jefferson Station

I was a boy when Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist hearings were televised in the 1950s. Not everyone owned a TV set, and the best way to get news was from newspapers. Even with the limited communication, the hearings spurred paranoia, and friends took sides, arguing with each other and becoming enemies. More important, some who were accused of being Communists were judged guilty by politicians and the public, in some cases based only on hearsay, destroying the lives and careers of the accused but also those of their entire families.

Now more than 60 years later, after the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were televised, the public was judging him as guilty or innocent. In most cases, feelings are based on personal experiences and not facts. This was the “whipped cream” on the cake in an already contentious political era.

The final judgment is in the hands of our elected officials and not the public.

Marty Orenstein, New Hyde Park

Is it still a democracy when one man can change things?

We were told by President Donald Trump and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee that an FBI investigation couldn’t be done, it doesn’t do that, there is no time.

Yet one man, Sen. Jeff Flake, reversed all that because he wasn’t sure about Brett Kavanaugh. One man’s doubts changed everything, even when a majority of Americans consisting of most women, most Democrats, many Republicans and many independents couldn’t. Is that democracy? And what was it about? For the rest of his life, Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote on issues that will influence generations, issues such as global warming, presidential removal for criminal activity, nuclear arms treaties, immigration and child separation, taxes, abortion, the right to life, voting rights, health care, gun control and so much more.

Is this the democracy that our Founding Fathers envisioned, that one individual can change history? Does democracy mean one man has more power than the will of the people? I do not think so.

Michael McBride, Moriches

As a survivor of sexual assault and rape, I’m compelled to share my experiences given the dangerous commentary about the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Reporting sexual violence is a stressful, emotional, and torturous experience, even when you have all the evidence in the world.

Every time people discuss this hearing as if it’s a national sporting event, we survivors feel smaller, disregarded, and we fear whether others would believe us and our truths.

If someone you know, love or work with seems off or out of it, they may be reliving the trauma and emotions of their own assault, reliving the pain, guilt and shame of people discrediting their character and disregarding their worth, their voice.

Be mindful in professional or personal settings. Christine Blasey Ford’s case is not this week’s latest TV drama to be debated lightly over the water cooler.

Check in with your loved ones. Survivors, check in with yourself. Tune out if you need. Your progress and wellness come first.

Shannon Fabiani, Bayport

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