EDITORIAL: Amid new allegations, put Brett Kavanaugh confirmation vote on hold

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Hundreds of protesters rally in the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda while demonstrating against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill Monday in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court often takes months to decide a case, presumably to get it right.

Now, when a controversial appointment to the court raises the question of getting cases right for decades into the future, it calls for the same measured, time-consuming pace of deliberations.

EDITORIAL

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the high court, already snarled by allegations from Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her 36 years ago, has plunged further into turmoil as more allegations have surfaced in recent days.

A woman who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, Deborah Ramirez, accuses him of exposing himself at a 1980s dorm party.

Michael Avenatti, best known as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, has tweeted he has a client with a background in “the State Dept, U.S. Mint, & DOJ” who is prepared to go on camera with more accusations against Kavanaugh.

The Montgomery County (Maryland) Sentinel reports investigators in that state are looking into allegations from a possible fourth accuser that date back to Kavanaugh’s senior year in high school. It’s not clear if the woman is Avenatti’s client or someone else.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. | AP photo

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. | AP photo

Hurrying a nomination through at this point not only would smear mud over the U.S. Senate, but it also would further denigrate trust in the Supreme Court as an institution that can reliably follow the law instead of politics.

Kavanaugh is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee on Thursday to defend himself from Ford’s allegation. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the allegations a “choreographed smear campaign” and said Kavanaugh will get an up-or-down vote in the Senate “in the near future.”

If anything is choreographed, it’s the way McConnell refused to consider former President Barack Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, and the way he is scurrying to get Kavanaugh on the court now.

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As we have written before, President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans risk appearing as though they don’t take seriously the problem of sexual assault against women. A better choice would be for Trump to order the FBI to investigate the various allegations so the Senate can make an informed decision on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

McConnell and the Senate Republicans need to remind themselves there’s really no rush. Even from a political standpoint, it’s not clear that hurrying the nomination through the Senate would help their party in the midterm elections. They — and Kavanaugh — should recognize that a thorough investigation, should it clear Kavanaugh, would show they care about a fair-minded Supreme Court that is above reproach.

Otherwise, the stain of this needlessly hasty process will linger over the court for years.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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