But let’s pretend we were in a trial setting. If that were so, the case would be thrown out of court.

First, Thursday’s uncertain spectacle is scheduled only because the confirmation process has been abused. Democrats willfully sat on Ford’s allegations and raised them in an untimely manner after the hearing. New meager allegations have come out of the woodwork in the same fashion. In a normal legal proceeding, these claims would be deemed waived by the failure to raise them in a timely fashion and submit them to the regular hearing process. If Grassley agreed to have the record supplemented by written submissions from witnesses about these allegations, that would not only have been sufficient but more than Democrats were entitled to under the circumstances.

More to the point, no court would entertain these allegations. The reason the Constitution requires a speedy trial in criminal cases, and the reason the law imposes statutes of limitations (in federal law, it is usually five years), is that unreasonable delay unfairly prejudices an accused’s right to present a defense. After five years, to say nothing of 36 years, physical evidence is no longer available, witnesses are often unavailable, and even if witnesses can be produced, their memories have faded and become unreliable. There is no way to conduct a proceeding that satisfies fundamental fairness.