We saw this coming as soon as Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June. We said then that the Supreme Court is in danger of becoming another cutthroat, partisan arena, where only some people could expect equal treatment under the law.

Everything that has occurred since Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced has only reaffirmed that opinion. Republicans set an unnecessarily short deadline for the judge’s confirmation, then sped through his hearings without enough time to review the mountain of documents that Kavanaugh generated during his time as a major political player in the George W. Bush White House.

Then came the credible allegations of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, and her subsequent appearance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her poised and open testimony demanded a full investigation of the charges, as did the nominee’s bullying performance when he testified, raising questions about his temperament and judgment.

Confirming this nominee under these circumstances would do long-term damage to the Supreme Court’s status as an institution that’s supposed to be above politics. The Senate should reject this nomination and start over. As one of the few people in the country who has the ability to help make that happen, Maine Sen. Susan Collins should break with her party and vote “no.”

The vicious, corrupting partisanship that has engulfed the other two branches of government has brought us to this point. If Kavanaugh is confirmed now, it will be the result of a Republican steamroller that cannot help but leave a mark on his service on the court, and cast doubt over every decision he writes.

The system failed us. Even after three women came forward with different allegations of sexual misconduct, most Republicans were ready to push his nomination to a vote.


They were stalled for a week by a request for an expanded background check. But that investigation appears to have been as flawed as everything else to do with this nomination. While we know next to nothing about the findings, we do know that neither Kavanaugh nor Ford were interviewed. Reportedly, dozens of potential sources who could have spoken to the allegations were ignored. Many of them were prepared to contradict Kavanaugh’s testimony, speaking directly to his credibility.

Further casting doubt on the integrity of the report, just one copy of it was printed and placed in a secure location, and senators were given limited time to review it.

Before the report was printed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had scheduled the first votes on the nomination for Friday. Only Republicans found the report satisfying, and many of them were prepared to vote for Kavanaugh regardless of what it contained.

To a great many Americans, Kavanaugh’s honesty, character and impartiality are in doubt. Worse, they have no faith in a process where party affiliation mattered more than the nominee’s character in deciding a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.

Something needs to bring the Supreme Court back from the edge. It has the final say on matters of great importance, but those decisions only have legitimacy if we the people believe in the court’s impartiality, and in the process by which its members are chosen. Collins pushed to have the Judiciary Committee permit Ford to testify, and she supported the reopened background investigation. She should go further.

Upon Kennedy’s retirement in June, we quoted Sen. Collins, who after reluctantly voting to end the 60-vote rule, said it would one day have to return in order to restore “the unwritten ethos that has made this body a model for the world for 230 years. It is an ethos built upon trust, compromise and restraint.”

Those values have been absent from the Kavanaugh confirmation process. To have any hope of bringing them back, Collins should vote no.

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