U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh pauses as he testifies at a Sept. 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. In an article published Oct. 2 on America magazine's website, the editor, Jesuit Father Matt Malone, defended the publication's decision to run an editorial urging Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court be withdrawn. CNS photo/Gabriella Demczuk, pool via Reuters

Francis Campbell: Fundamental truths about Kavanaugh hearing circus cannot be ignored

  • October 4, 2018

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. That old newsroom jest has been bandied about for years, especially when questioning a dubious article in a rival publication.

Truth has been on trial south of the border during the circus that has surrounded the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, a prospective U.S. Supreme Court justice. It’s difficult to imagine, however, that revealing the truth was the main motive behind much of the bitter partisan discourse that buffeted the Kavanaugh hearing.

The question of what constitutes truth is not novel. Pontius Pilate, tasked to determine the fate of Jesus before eventually ordering His execution, questioned Jesus about His claim that He came into the world to bear witness to truth.

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.

It is a question members of a Senate judicial committee may have been pondering as a university professor testified about an alleged sexual assault committed against her by Kavanaugh 35 years ago when they were in high school. Christine Blasey Ford was calm but terrified, sometimes emotional, always articulate and credible in testifying that she is 100-per-cent certain Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Kavanaugh was equally forceful in asserting the party and alleged assault never occurred. He also angrily blamed the allegation on Democrats and the Clintons who were still reeling from the 2016 election of Republican President Donald Trump. Kavanaugh, coming across as indignant that his character was even being questioned, betrayed an arrogance that suggested he felt entitled to the Supreme Court position.

After weeks of name-calling and finger-pointing, the judicial committee finally voted to send the nomination forward to the Senate, but only after the FBI completed a week-long investigation of allegations that now include three female accusers. 

But no matter what the FBI uncovers, if anything, the entrenched positions of senators regarding Kavanaugh’s nomination are primarily borne out of partisan politics. Republicans favour his confirmation, Democrats oppose it. Kavanaugh’s character does not appear to be a factor.

It should be simple enough. Under oath, Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford told contrasting stories about what happened. One is telling the truth, the other is not. Senators should be expected to decide who is sincere and who is lying. Any senator who believes Blasey Ford’s account should have a very difficult time defending Kavanaugh’s appointment. And yet the vote will most certainly be divided primarily along party lines.

It probably should come as no surprise that truth is a casualty of the political process when it comes to nominating a judge to a supposed neutral, non-partial court intended to sit above politics. After all, the United States has elected a president that asserts alternative facts and admonishes people to disbelieve what they see and read.

Truth is black and white. If you cross the street against the light when traffic is barrelling down on you, you are likely to end up being transported to the hospital or the morgue. You will not be protected by asserting that, in your opinion, it was untrue that oncoming traffic posed no danger. There are fundamental truths that are consistent and absolute for everyone, regardless of whether or not we choose to accept them or believe them.  

The truth to which Jesus referred during His interrogation by Pontius Pilate and that He espoused is that His death and resurrection are available for all to embrace as a pathway to eternity. Sin separates us from God and the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf can bridge that separation. But we have to believe and accept that truth.

The secular world falsely tells us that truth can be relative, that there can be one truth for you and another for me.

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” Pope Benedict said even before he ascended to the papacy.

Our beliefs are not the same as truth. Truth is not subjective. We would do well to seek out the enduring and unwavering truths.

(Campbell is a reporter at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.)

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