Newsletter: Can Kavanaugh be trusted to protect women’s rights?

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
(Christy Bowe / Tribune News Service)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. It’s that time of year again in Los Angeles: The Dodgers are closing in on another National League West championship. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Credible as Christine Blasey Ford is, her allegation that a 17-year-old, drunken Brett Kavanaugh aggressively forced himself on her 36 years ago, groped her while attempting to remove her clothes and muted her cries for help might not be enough alone to determine the Supreme Court nominee’s fitness for a lifetime seat. But there are other pieces of the federal appeals court judge’s past that, taken together with Ford’s allegation, should worry anyone who cares about women’s rights.

UCLA law professor Laura E. Gómez has special insight on this, having clerked at the same federal appeals courthouse in Pasadena where Kavanaugh worked for Judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned last year after 15 women accused him of harassing them physically or verbally. Gómez writes in an L.A. Times op-ed article:

"I find myself doubting Kavanaugh’s truthfulness about what happened to Christine Blasey Ford because I doubt his veracity about something that has gotten lost in the latest news: His testimony during the confirmation hearings when asked about the sexual improprieties of one of his mentors, retired Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals....

"Asked repeatedly by both Republican and Democrat senators about his knowledge of Kozinski’s bad acts, Kavanaugh said he never witnessed Kozinski 'engaging in inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.'

"Along with his insistence that he never assaulted a younger girl when he was 17, these denials lead me to question Kavanaugh’s inclination to treat women as the full equals of men under the law....

"Kavanaugh couldn’t possibly have missed the furor over reporting about Kozinski’s questionable behavior in the Los Angeles Times in 2008. According to what Kozinski told The Times, he had maintained 'for years' a website filled with sexually explicit images, and he had invited 'friends' to view the images. Kozinski described what he uploaded to the site as 'funny' and 'interesting.' They included a video of a woman shaving her pubic area and a photo of a naked woman on all fours painted to look like a cow.

"It simply doesn’t ring true to me that, as he asserted during the confirmation process, Kavanaugh would be in the dark about allegations of impropriety related to Kozinski....

"I can’t help connecting the dots between a boys-will-be-boys high school culture, socialization into the legal profession by a ribald mentor, and what appears to be a convenient, willful blindness to that mentor’s obvious missteps. Perhaps Kavanaugh can’t identify harassment, and possibly assault, or he doesn’t want to. Either way, I don’t trust him to protect women’s rights."

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It’s Dianne Feinstein’s fault. Columnist Jonah Goldberg isn’t sure which side is telling the truth about the Kavanaugh assault allegation, but he’s sure of at least one thing: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein has behaved outrageously. Because no matter what you choose to believe, she waited too long to reveal the accusation.” L.A. Times

Have an FBI probe first, then ask Ford to testify. The Times Editorial Board believes Kavanaugh’s accuser is entirely reasonable to want the Federal Bureau of Investigation to, you know, investigate what she says happened to her decades ago before being grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The board concludes, “Given the gravity of Ford’s allegations and the lifetime office to which Kavanaugh has been nominated, a rush to hold hearings is unnecessary and unseemly.” L.A. Times

Immigrants still welcome — as long as they’re millionaires. The Trump administration wants to slash the number of foreigners migrating to the United States, but there’s one group whose numbers are actually up: holders of EB-5 visas, which require recipients to pay $1 million. L.A. Times

Make landlords live with their tenants — that way, they’d think twice before hitting these people with rent increases they can’t afford. Gustavo Arellano explains his alternative to statutory rent control: “Landlords and real estate magnates are human, no matter how much rent-control advocates claim otherwise. Get them and their lieutenants out of their gated communities and among their renters, and empathy will surely touch their hearts. Because no one is evil enough to live among people, look them in the eye, and raise their rent by $500 a month.” L.A. Times

California got rid of cash bail. It still might have a problem. Merely being arrested shouldn’t be enough to upend your life. Now, with California’s cash bail system giving way to an algorithm-based assessment, fewer people who pose almost no flight risk will languish in jail and therefore lose their jobs without being convicted. Still, California’s new system cannot completely guard against pretrial detentions tinged by racism. The Atlantic

Times Editorial Board endorsements so far:

U.S. senator: Dianne Feinstein

Secretary of state: Alex Padilla

State controller: Betty Yee

State treasurer: Fiona Ma

Proposition 10 (rent control): Yes

Proposition 11 (first responders): Yes

L.A. County sheriff: Jim McDonnell

L.A. Charter Amendment B: No