By Emma Hinchliffe
Sunny Hostin is a cohost of The View and legal analyst for ABC—and she’s also a former federal prosecutor.
Before participating in a People En Español panel on the culture and identity of Afro-Latinas, Hostin took some time to talk to Fortune about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and what we might see next. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Fortune: What was your initial take on Brett Kavanaugh before this development—allegations of sexual assault in high school brought by professor Christine Blasey Ford—was introduced?
Hostin: I looked at the shortlist of nominees, and he wasn’t the worst of the lot depending on your political views. I practiced in D.C. as assistant U.S. attorney, and he was on the D.C. Circuit. As far as I could tell, people felt that he was qualified to be there. I looked at some of his decisions, and they were well-written and thoughtful, even if I didn’t agree with some of the conclusions. I thought it was what was expected in terms of a political appointee of this administration.
What do you think now?
Because I was a sex crimes prosecutor, I think that, if true, these allegations are disqualifying. Because this is a lifetime appointment. He’s young—I believe he’s in his early 50s—so you’re talking about someone that will be on the Court for 30 to 40 years, which will change the jurisprudence of the land for generations. I don’t think everyday people understand that—that his appointment could change their lives. Sometimes Supreme Court justices surprise you with their decisions—you think they’re going to vote one way, but they vote a different way, and I keep an open mind about that. But I think a moral compass is really important for a Supreme Court justice, as it is for any political appointee. You really have to be able to know right from wrong. That’s what you’re tasked to do. If you are someone who almost raped someone—that’s what she’s alleging, an attempted rape—I would not be supportive of that nomination.
Do you think there’s a chance the Senate might get it right this time, compared to Anita Hill?
Anita Hill has come forward, she has said there’s no rush for this. I’ve said on The View, now there is a blueprint for this. The FBI did with bipartisan agreement agree to a continued background investigation, and then Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas testified. The thought somehow that the FBI shouldn’t investigate this is ridiculous. I remember as a federal prosecutor myself, it’s only a 3-year appointment, and they interviewed my childhood neighbors. The notion somehow that the FBI shouldn’t reopen a background investigation and interview Professor Ford, interview Judge Kavanaugh, interview Mark Judge who was there, other people that attended the high school [is ridiculous].
This goes directly to character, and character’s going to be really important. I think that if they do the right thing and they conduct this investigation or at the very least subpoena Judge and perhaps some other students, I can’t imagine that he will be confirmed. Confirming him knowing these allegations says to all the women in the country, we don’t believe you. We can’t let that pass.
If Kavanaugh is dismissed as a nominee, what or who do you think we might see next?
I think that we will see someone else from the shortlist. I think it would be very smart to nominate a woman, given what has happened here. There’s a woman [Amy Coney-Barrett] who taught at Notre Dame, where I went to law school. I would suspect that if people are looking for a new nominee she would be the nominee. It’s still going to be a very conservative justice, and that’s fine. Presidents nominate people that are in line with their philosophies, but this nominee is now tainted. If true, and in my experience her allegations seem very credible, I think it’s disqualifying.