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New Book’s Evidence On Kavanaugh Sparks Calls For Impeachment

A new book by two New York Times reporters suggests that Deborah Ramirez — who claimed that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while both were Yale students — had significant evidence to corroborate her charges. But Republicans seeking to confirm Kavanaugh ensured that her charges were not fully investigated. Now some prominent Democrats, including several presidential candidates, are calling for Kavanaugh to be impeached for lying during his Senate confirmation hearings.

According to The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, which the Times excerpted last weekend, Ramirez described the incident to the FBI in detail:

During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.

Ramirez reportedly gave investigators a list of 25 witnesses who could support her allegation but they were hindered by rules imposed by the Senate Republicans and interviewed none of the proposed witnesses. Following up on her charges in a ten-month investigation, however, authors Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly found that “at least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge.” Two of those witnesses were Ramirez classmates who learned of the assault just days after the party, “suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.”

(Here I should note that both Pogrebin and Kelly were my colleagues at the New York Observer — and I continue to hold them in the highest regard.)

Over the weekend, the Times itself came under heavy criticism for an insensitive tweet promoting an article about the book, which described “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party” as seeming “like harmless fun.” The paper subsequently deleted the tweet and instead noted on Twitter that “we deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive, and we apologize.”

While President Trump and Senate Republicans continued to defend Kavanaugh, denouncing the new reporting as a “smear,” Democrats demanded a renewed investigation and possible impeachment of the new justice. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) declared in a tweet that Kavanaugh “was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached.”

In her own tweet, Senator Elizabeth Warren linked him to Trump: “Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”


Analysis: Feminism And Mormon Doctrine Collide And Lead To Rare Excommunication

By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

Kate Kelly, the face of the latest wave of feminist demands on the Mormon church, said she is unlikely to seek rebaptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints any time soon, after she was formally excommunicated on Monday.

“I’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to repent,” Kelly said in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, published in Utah, where the church is based. “Once the church changes to be a more inclusive place and once women are ordained, that’s a place I’d feel welcome.”

Kelly said she will likely seek to appeal her ouster to a higher church authority, but the issue she represents — inclusion of women on an equal clerical standing with men — is one with which the Mormon church and other religions have long grappled.

Her case also highlights the issue of excommunication itself — essentially separating the individual from the body of her society. It sounds like a harsh penalty, but it has a long and glorious history in the annals of religion as well as in secular society.

All societies define their membership and operating rules, including those for separating individuals from the pack. If you think this is a phenomenon reserved for religions, just visit any office cooler after a big sporting event and watch the person who rooted for the wrong side being ostracized. American society has even developed a genre of reality television around one’s peers voting someone off of the island. It is no accident one show is called Survivor.

When it comes to religions, however, many have institutionalized ways of defining and including their members and casting out those who fail to make the grade or have thumbed their noses at the prevailing dogma.

Some Protestants sects call it shunning, barring all social contact with the miscreant. Judaism had a form of such censure as well, though the practice has gone by the wayside as Jews were allowed to move out of legal ghettos and the religion divided among different branches. Roman Catholics have a history of excommunication going back to the first century and include a whole slew of kings before, during and after the Protestant Reformation: One side’s excommunicated heretics are another side’s revered leaders.

Over the weekend, Pope Francis declared organized crime in Italy to be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church: “Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the Mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated,” he said on a visit to Calabria. But that proclamation lacked the formal heft of the leader of the church speaking about doctrine and probably was meant to be more of a warning to hoodlums.

Like all religions, Mormon excommunications, especially for apostasy, or the abandoning of a religious belief, can be complicated.

Last year, Kelly helped found Ordain Women, a group that seeks gender equality and women’s ordination to the priesthood. A former Mormon missionary, she rose to national prominence leading demonstrations at the church’s semiannual conferences at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Women do hold leadership positions in the church, which has about 15 million members worldwide, but the priesthood is closed to females, spokesman Eric Hawkins said in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “The pattern of ordaining men to the priesthood was established by Christ in His Church, and is followed in His restored Church today,” he stated.

The national church does not have statistics on how many people have been excommunicated, Hawkins said, since discipline is usually initiated at the local organizational level known as stakes. It was a stake in Virginia that met on Sunday on Kelly’s case and decided to excommunicate her.

AFP Photo / George Frey

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