September 21, 2018
The teetering confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court may be a harbinger of the collapse — or lasting impact — of the #MeToo movement.
Conservative prosecutors, law enforcements agencies and lawmakers are at a crossroads with their counterparts on the left who want to pursue sexual assault at all cost — no matter how long ago.
In Pennsylvania, lawmakers expressed frustration with the state’s statute of limitations that prohibited the prosecution of 299 out of 301 predatory priests listed in a recent bombshell grand jury report. Advocacy groups were also quick to attack the statute of limitations for blocking victims from pursuing Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein.
Professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault which occurred 36 years ago, in Maryland. There is no statute of limitations for rape or sexual assault in Maryland.
According to the Washington Post, Senate Republicans have signaled that they will move ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation in spite of Ford calling for a pause and the intervention of the FBI.
Why not have the FBI reopen Kavanaugh’s background investigation? The FBI reopened Justice Clarence Thomas’ background investigation in 1991 after Anita Hill came forward — or let the Montgomery County, Maryland District Attorney’s office conduct a criminal investigation.
Ford has described a sexual assault by a U.S. Supreme Court nominee who is about to take a lifetime appointment on one of the most powerful tribunals in the world.
A spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police Department told The Intercept that since “nobody has come forward to report any allegation or incident” they can’t start an investigation. Don’t they have televisions in Montgomery County?
Why abolish the statute of limitations if a prosecutor chooses to ignore the highest profile allegation of sexual assault in modern history with no limitations on his ability to act?
In June, the New York Times reported, “The battle over statutes of limitations for sexual assault is so fraught that it has upended traditional political alliances. Women’s rights activists typically partner with progressives on political issues ... those who advocate abolishing the limits find their staunchest allies in conservative lawmakers.”
As Kavanaugh’s confirmation presses forward it is ironic that Senator Mitch McConnell and his GOP colleagues in the Senate are pushing for a Monday hearing — with or without Ford.
McConnell was a major force behind the effort to push out Senator Larry E. Craig, the Idaho Republican arrested at an airport in 2007 in an undercover sex sting. McConnell was the chairman of the ethics committee when Oregon Senator Bob Packwood resigned after he was accused of sexual harassment. He pushed for the resignation of Minnesota Senator Al Franken amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Last year, McConnell said Roy Moore, a Senate candidate from Alabama, would be unfit to serve in the senate after multiple women accused him of long ago sexual abuse.
Surprising, McConnell doesn’t require the same level of fitness for the United State Supreme Court as he does the United States Senate.
I recently wrote that there is a purpose behind the statute of limitations. The statute, or some version of it, has been around since antiquity. There has long been a concern that individuals should not be forced to defend themselves years and years after an event that allegedly caused harm to another person.
Today Show co-host Megyn Kelly — an unlikely ally of the Trump Administration — said this week, “It’s been 34 years. He (Kavanaugh) was allegedly 17 when it happened. How is he supposed to defend himself? There’s a reason we have statutes of limitation in this country and that’s because ... memory fades, details fade and it’s impossible for him to prove a negative.”
As the flaws of abolishing the statute of limitations are laid bare — the challenge for victim advocates is to convince the public that victims — however long ago their victimization — are entitled to be heard whether in a courtroom or a senate hearing room.
— Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
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