It’s been nearly five years since Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate in a 50-48 vote—despite allegations of sexual misconduct by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez and about 4,500 other tips that the FBI seemingly just kind of ignored.
Justice, a new documentary about the botched FBI investigation that preceded Kavanaugh’s confirmation, premiered at Sundance to a sold-out audience Friday night—after only being shown to Sundance execs Wednesday and getting added to the schedule Thursday. “This was the kind of movie where people are terrified,” director Doug Liman said at the beginning of his documentary debut. “The people that chose to participate in the movie are heroes.” Among the new testimonials from Ramirez (who tells her story on-camera for the first time), friends of Blasey Ford, as well as corroborating evidence that the FBI failed to follow up on or fully investigate, is a never-before-heard recording from one of Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates that corroborates Ramirez’s story.
Following Friday’s premiere, Liman, who’s known for directing big-budget blockbusters like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, said that “within half an hour of the announcement,” new tips about Kavanaugh were already starting to roll in. “I thought the film was done but it looks like we aren’t,” he said during the post-screening Q&A, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not over.”
The biggest revelation involves Max Stier, the former Yale classmate who, during the week of Kavanaugh’s investigation, informed senators and the FBI that he “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” (The FBI never followed up.) Justice airs a new recording of Stier telling the story, saying, “This is something that I reported to my wife years ago.”
Stier and Kavanaugh both declined to speak to filmmakers, but the audio was reportedly provided to them by a trusted, anonymous source. The recording also includes Stier remembering hearing about Ramirez’s encounter with Kavanaugh, when he tried to stick his penis into her mouth while she was practically passed out drunk at a dorm party.
Liman told THR that he started making Justice at the beginning of 2022 because the Supreme Court, “which is sacred for all of us, holds special meaning for me,” and that the was frustrated by the FBI investigation that “never happened.” Liman’s dad, Arthur L. Liman, was an esteemed lawyer and activist, and Liman’s brother, Lewis, is currently a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. He teamed up with investigative veteran producers Amy Herdy (The Hunting Ground) and Liz Garbus (Girlhood, What Happened, Miss Simone?) to help make Justice in secret.
In all, the doc speaks to multiple journalists, lawyers, psychologists, and classmates and friends of Ford and Ramirez. It dives into the thousands of tips the FBI received, and ignored, at the time—the number of which was revealed in 2021. Essentially, while there don’t seem to be any huge new bombshells, it’s at least another fun reminder that the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade included a justice who allegedly violated women’s bodies and was barely investigated.
“I do hope this triggers outrage,” Herdy said in the Q&A. “I do hope that this triggers action, I do hope that this triggers additional investigation with real subpoena powers.” Hear, hear. Except that, between the Supreme Court, the reversal of Roe, and the current state of reproductive rights in the U.S., I’ve learned to stop holding my fucking breath.