Kavanaugh went on to earn his undergraduate and law degrees at Yale and earned his conservative bona fides early in his career as a lawyer, interning for Ken Starr, then President George H.W. Bush's solicitor general. He would later co-author Starr's famed government report on President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, which would lead to the Democrat's impeachment.
It was Kavanaugh's conservative cred that led Trump to nominate the jurist for the Supreme Court, which led to one of the most dramatic hearings in recent Senate history. Psychologist Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of viciously assaulting her when they were both high school students as one of the young man's friends looked on. Her claims shook the nation, with one passage from her testimony—"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter—the uproarious laughter between the two—and their having fun at my expense"—resounding among survivors of sexual assault.
Calmes writes about Ford's decision to come forward with real sensitivity and fairness, and she speaks to numerous sources about the psychologist's experiences—Calmes is a first-rate reporter, and her skills are on full display here. Her chronicle of the Kavanaugh hearing, at which Ford laid out her claims against Kavanaugh, is riveting. She captures Ford's dramatic appearance beautifully: "At one point, she nervously turned to the friends behind her, smiled, and waved slightly," Calmes writes. Turning back, she faced the senators, visibly breathed deep, and swallowed hard. The tension was palpable—hers, and everyone else's."
Kavanaugh, of course, would eventually be confirmed, after his own tearful testimony in which he denied attacking Ford. Dissent ends with a look at Kavanaugh's brief tenure on the Supreme Court, which Calmes considers carefully and with real insight. Noting that some conservatives have been disappointed in Chief Justice John Roberts, Calmes writes, "Kavanaugh did not disappoint conservatives, however: He came down on the 'right' side on the abortion, Dreamers, and gay rights decisions, and signaled eagerness to expand gun rights."