Politico is reporting that Senate Democrats are planning on asking Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee about “his decades-long relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, who was forced into retirement last year by a mounting sexual harassment scandal.”
Senator Mazie Hirono told Politico that, “Given Judge Kavanaugh’s close relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, the subject of numerous harassment complaints, we need to know what Judge Kavanaugh knew and his views on this serious problem.”
In the #MeToo era, this is a line of inquiry that could resonate. There was some worry about Kavanaugh’s potential #MeToo problem within Republican circles. As Politico observes, “Critics of Kavanaugh previously raised the Kozinski connection in an opposition research document passed around to try to persuade Trump not to nominate him to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.” Concern that this issue needs a pre-emptive response might explain the sudden spate of op-eds testifying to Kavanaugh’s personal character and mentorship of women.
While this is a worthy topic of exploration, Democrats might be framing the issue too narrowly. Aside from his relationship with Kozinski, there is a broader question of how Kavanaugh will handle issues of particular interest to women such as reproductive rights and workplace harassment law. Democrats would do well to focus not just on legitimate concerns about personal conduct but also the specific impact Kavanaugh’s conservative jurisprudence will have on women’s legal rights.