The burden of persuasion

Having watched most of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I thought that Ford was a credible witness. That is my take. Ford’s testimony was short of relevant facts. It was deficient in important respects. Yet I don’t think one can doubt that she was the victim of an assault. Where is a witness to corroborate any element of her story dating back 35 years? Whodunnit?

The Democratic Senators took most of their time to render testimonials to Ford and pronounce their verdict on her before Judge Kavanaugh has been heard. Of course, they had pronounced their verdict against Kavanaugh around the time that President Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court.

The Democrats play to win and have a unity that eludes Republicans. They are unconstrained by norms of decency or by the otherwise applicable rules. The game they are playing is transparent. As Bob Dylan might put it, she’s only a pawn in their game.

I have no idea what the attorney questioning Ford on behalf of Republicans was doing. She made a point or two and may have made others I missed. The point of many questions was not apparent to me. She seemed worse than ineffectual.

As a practical matter Ford’s testimony has shifted the burden of persuasion to Judge Kavanaugh and the standard is high, somewhere between preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt. I have thought he could do that. I hope he can, but he has a steep hill to climb.

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