Letter to My Senators on the Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation

Supreme Court

Supreme Court building, Washington, DC. Photo by Callen Harty.

This is the letter I sent to both of my Senators this evening regarding the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation:

I am a constituent from Monona, Wisconsin. It appears this evening that the FBI may have wrapped up its additional investigation of Brett Kavanaugh. I am disappointed in how that investigation was limited, but I understand that political maneuvering can sometimes leave us all unsatisfied. My understanding is that Mitch McConnell is moving to schedule a vote in the Senate within the next few days. I am writing to strongly encourage you to vote no on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice.

There are numerous reasons to vote no against this judicial candidate. He has absolutely no experience trying a case in any court. After graduating law school, he served as a clerk and then worked for Ken Starr, where he was instrumental in the impeachment of Bill Clinton concerning sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I do not approve of what Bill Clinton did at that time. Legally, at the very least it was sexual harassment due to the power differential between he and his intern. Morally, it was reprehensible. Brett Kavanaugh was key in bringing impeachment proceedings against President Clinton for lying under oath, so I believe that he needs to be held to the same standards that he espoused at that time.

In 2000, Kavanaugh worked for the Bush campaign in the Florida recount. After that he was awarded a job working for the White House, vetting judicial candidates. In 2003, in what appeared to be political payback for his service to the White House, he was nominated to a circuit judgeship by President Bush. The nomination took three years and a series of negotiations to be confirmed, primarily due to Kavanaugh’s clear partisanship, something that should not be reflected in any judge, let alone a Justice of the Supreme Court.

Judge Kavanaugh’s partisanship is still alive and well (or perhaps I should say unwell). It was made clear at the hearing in which both he and Christine Blasey Ford testified under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is simply not acceptable to seat him when his views are so clearly aligned with one major political party and against the other major party. Judges are supposed to be impartial and leave their own political persuasions aside. His prepared testimony last week makes it clear that he is still not able to do that. One might have thought that he would have learned a lesson from the three years his previous nomination languished because of it. I believe he struck a strident partisan tone in his recent remarks precisely because our current political climate is so partisan and projecting that image to those on his side of the political spectrum may work to his benefit. It did not play so well for those of us who believe in judicial impartiality.

In addition, Judge Kavanaugh’s hostile demeanor in that same hearing does not reflect well upon his ability to be steady and thoughtful when deciding important and historic cases.

Far worse than his demeanor, numerous news sources and websites have clearly delineated a couple dozen or so lies that Judge Kavanaugh told under oath. Many of his responses in the most recent hearing were evasive or completely failed to answer the questions asked of him. This kind of equivocation does not reflect well upon him. As a judge, I am confident that he would not tolerate a witness before him who refused to answer so many questions or redirected the questions back upon those who were trying to get answers. The evasion was bad enough, but his outright lies were so obvious that even an untrained listener could name at least half a dozen of them. Many were simple, such as his made-up definitions of the words in his high school yearbook and his weak attempts at denying that he was a heavy and out-of-control drinker in his youth. If he can lie about these things, then it becomes far likelier that he could be lying about anything, including the sexual assault allegations against him. Whether he committed that crime or not, it is unacceptable to reward a man who strays so far from the truth by giving him a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. It is simply unacceptable to even think that a man who would so brashly lie under oath should be given any position in a court of law.

I believe Dr. Ford and found her testimony to be forthright and as truthful as it could be given the time that has passed and the trauma she so clearly suffered. As a child sex abuse survivor and someone who has spoken publicly and trained others on sexual assault, I can tell you that specific memories, such as the laughter Dr. Ford described, can stay with a victim forever, but other details that are not critical to what happened, such as the exact time of day or precise location, may be lost in a haze. Not remembering every detail does not mean that the whole story is fabricated. From my experience I absolutely believe that Dr. Ford was honest and one hundred percent correct in the details she recalled.

Finally, polling across the country shows that the majority of the citizens of this country, including those of us in Wisconsin, do not want Brett Kavanaugh to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Please understand that I am not a Democrat or Republican. I have been an independent voter my entire life. In one election several years ago I voted for four different parties on the first four offices on the ballot. Please know that I, for one, will not vote for any politician from any party, in the Senate, House, White House, or in positions back home in Wisconsin, who continues to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in any way. I emphatically urge you to vote no on his confirmation and I thank you for your consideration.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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