Kavanaugh Supporter Now Has Second Thoughts NPR's Audie Cornish talks to Yale law professor Akhil Amar, author of a New York Times op-ed: "A Liberal's Case for Brett Kavanaugh." His stance has now changed, according to a Yale Daily News' op-ed.


Kavanaugh Supporter Now Has Second Thoughts

Kavanaugh Supporter Now Has Second Thoughts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/651571233/651593363" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR's Audie Cornish talks to Yale law professor Akhil Amar, author of a New York Times op-ed: "A Liberal's Case for Brett Kavanaugh." His stance has now changed, according to a Yale Daily News' op-ed.


One of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's early supporters is his former law professor at Yale, Akhil Reed Amar. Amar, a self-described liberal, publicly praised Kavanaugh and testified before senators on his behalf. Then came the allegations of Kavanaugh's past sexual misconduct. This week, Amar wrote an op-ed in the Yale Daily News called "Second Thoughts On Kavanaugh." In it, he says he agrees that the FBI should investigate the allegations.

I spoke to Amar earlier today and asked him whether the allegations, if proved true, would disqualify Kavanaugh.

AKHIL REED AMAR: Different people will answer that differently. Some will say, oh, it was so long ago; he's a new person now; let's look at how he's treated women and how he's generally behaved more recently. Others will say, stuff that you did long ago still bears on your character, and everything that you've done over the course of your life is fair game.

CORNISH: Why do you think that the FBI should conduct an investigation into these allegations - 'cause you have heard an argument that says they're going to at best be able to do some kinds of fact finding, but it's not like they're going to be able to quote, unquote, "solve the case."

AMAR: Let the chips fall where they may. We have to in the end be fact-based. And if he's rushed through - and let's say he actually gets confirmed - the investigations private and public won't stop. The press will still be on this issue. If Democrats can gain control in November of the House or the Senate, they can have ongoing investigations into this. They'll have the oversight power.

So as someone who actually does - is on the record as having endorsed Kavanaugh, if he's going to be confirmed, I want him to be confirmed actually without a cloud on his head, in the sunshine. So I think it's not just for the benefit of his accusers and for the country and the Supreme Court but actually in his long-term interest to have a proper investigation. And I do understand that the chips may fall in ways that are uncomfortable for all sides.

CORNISH: You yourself call this Pandora's box - right? - the idea of delaying and doing more investigation. And in return, what do you think Senate Democrats should promise to?

AMAR: I think a date certain by which there will be the end at least of this preliminary investigation. So they promise they're not going to try to find additional episodes and then ask for still more time.

CORNISH: But when you say that, it does - it speaks to a Republican concern or conservative concern that essentially accusers are coming forward with strictly a political motive.

AMAR: Well, that's why - I don't know. I'm trying to actually offer a solution that the Republicans could accept and that the Democrats could live with. And sometimes half a loaf is called democracy. It's actually trying to find some middle ground that accommodates the concerns of each side. The Democrats say, we really want a serious investigation. And the Republicans say, yes, but at a certain point, we do get to vote because we control the chamber, and it's only fair that we get to vote. And maybe we vote no, but we want to vote at some date certain.

CORNISH: And at this point, do you feel like personally you still support Judge Kavanaugh?

AMAR: I absolutely continue to believe that his judicial work product and scholarly products puts him at the very top of all sitting Republican federal judges under 60, which is basically the talent pool. But there is a character test as well, and I don't know the facts. And I will watch along with everyone else.

CORNISH: Akhil Reed Amar is a Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale. Thank you for speaking with us.

AMAR: Thank you for having me.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.