Legally Speaking: Could claims derail Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court bid?

Sep 25, 2018, 4:39 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2018, 4:34 pm

Think back to when you were in high school and or college. Were there things you did that maybe you are embarrassed of now? Did you ever think any of those moments would come back to haunt you in your professional life 30 years later?

Allegations of sexual misconduct back in Brett Kavanaugh’s high school and college days are swirling around the Supreme Court justice nominee. What are those allegations, what are the criminal, political, and legal ramifications he faces and what is next?

First, let’s discuss the obvious: The criminal consequences. Although these instances could meet the definitions of sexual assault, attempted rape and various other charges, these alleged instances happened around 30 years ago (approximately 1985-88). Maryland has various statutes of limitations for different crimes and interestingly enough, none for some sex crimes. This means that law enforcement could investigate the allegations though it would be difficult considering the time frame. Connecticut is considering changes to its statute of limitations but as of now it has likely run.

From the moment of the announcement through the hearings is when the Senate is given the opportunity to ask questions and review Kavanaugh’s legal and personal life to determine whether he should sit on the highest court in our country. At the end of the hearings there will be a vote; if the vote is in his favor then Judge Kavanaugh will become Justice Kavanaugh.

Everything is fair game during this investigative process and the hearings — nothing is taboo. Senators and their staff are turning over every rock and looking in every closet Kavanaugh has ever had.

During this process, two women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior against Kavanaugh: Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Each have leveled accusations that could impact the future of our country.

The first allegations came from Ford. According to The Washington Post, when Ford and Kavanaugh were both in high school she remembers being pushed into a bedroom and then onto a bed. Kavanaugh then allegedly held her down and fumbled with her clothes. After she yelled, Kavanaugh allegedly clapped his hand over her mouth to silence her.

Next Ramirez spoke out. According to The New Yorker, Ramirez alleges “Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his p**** in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away” while both were freshmen at Yale University.

In light of these serious accusations, Kavanaugh faces some undesirable consequences.

First, let’s discuss the obvious: The criminal consequences. Although these instances would meet the definitions of sexual assault, attempted rape and various other charges, these alleged instances happened around 30 years ago (approximately 1985-88). That means there is nothing that can be done criminally because the statute of limitations has run out.

Politically, the consequences are significant: He could lose the confirmation. Although, at this time, these are unsubstantiated allegations; that may be all that is needed to derail his career as a justice. I have heard discussions in the community that not everybody tells the truth about everything and this could be a plan to keep a Republican nominee from obtaining one of the highest judicial seats. That could be true; however, our country is in the middle of a #MeToo revolution and again, allegations might be all that is needed.

Although the allegations could keep him from the Supreme Court, his job as a Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals is secure. This is because under Article III of the Constitution, these federal judges are appointed for life. Here is something interesting to ponder, in order to be appointed as a Court of Appeals judge, Kavanaugh had to go through confirmation hearings. Nothing has come out that these allegations surfaced during those hearings. This leaves some asking, why now?

Civilly, it is unlikely Brett Kavanaugh will face any lawsuits as a result of these allegations. The statutes of limitations for any civil suits have likely run. He could try to bring a claim for defamation against the women who in turn could try to bring the same claims against him.

So, what is next #LegallySpeaking? The confirmation hearings are ongoing with Ford and Kavanaugh set to testify about the allegations. It is not clear whether Ramirez will testify. After that there will either be an extension of the investigation period or a vote will be called. We could know very soon if Kavanaugh will wear the title of justice of the Supreme Court, or the hearings could be dragged out until after the elections in November.

Monica Lindstrom

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Legally Speaking: Could claims derail Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court bid?