October 1, 2018
On Friday, September 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination to the entire Senate for a vote. However, the floor vote may be delayed for as long as one week.
After hearings on September 27 that comprised credible accusations of sexual assault made by Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford—and strong denials from the nominee—the committee now is considering a variety of demands to conduct a more thorough investigation of the allegations through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A member of the committee, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona) voted with his GOP colleagues, but then called for a delay so that the FBI could investigate the accusations against Kavanaugh.
In addition, the American Bar Association, Yale University, and three Republican governors —Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and John Kasich of Ohio—called for a probe into the charges.
In a letter sent to committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) on the evening after the September 27 hearings, Robert Carlson, the president of the American Bar Association called on the committee to halt the confirmation vote until “after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Ford and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others),” he said, “is simply too important to rush to a vote. Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court. It must remain an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics.
The call for a pause is significant, The New York Times said, not just because of the bar association’s clout in the legal community, but because an A.B.A. committee had said unanimously a month ago that Judge Kavanaugh was “well-qualified” for the Supreme Court, its highest possible designation. Judge Kavanaugh and his supporters had noted that distinction in arguing for his nomination to be approved by the Senate.
Meanwhile, 48 members of the faculty of Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Yale Law School, sent a letter delineating concerns about “a rush to judgment.” They noted “Where, as here, a sexual assault has been alleged against an individual nominated for a lifetime appointment in a position of public trust, a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth of the matter. Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly. Those at the FBI or others tasked with such an investigation must have adequate time to investigate facts. Fair process requires evidence from all parties with direct knowledge and consultation of experts when evaluating such evidence. In subsequent hearings, all of those who testify, and particularly women testifying about sexual assault, must be treated with respect.
In addition, three Republican governors—John Kasich of Ohio, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Phil Scott of Vermont—called for the GOP-controlled Senate to slow down Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and a fourth called the accusations against him “disturbing.”
According to a report by the Huffington Post, Baker and Kasich both weighed in on Twitter. Baker described the allegations as “sickening” and said there should be no Senate vote until an independent investigation is complete. Kasich, who is in his final year as governor and is widely seen as a potential long-shot primary challenger to President Donald Trump in 2020, went further in his own statement, saying he would not support Kavanaugh’s confirmation “in the absence of a complete and thorough investigation.”
Scott made similar remarks to the Burlington Free Press. “This is a lifetime appointment,” Scott said. “And I’m not taking a position on Judge Kavanaugh himself, but we owe it to Americans to make sure that they get it right. Because this doesn’t happen every day. And it’s their obligation to do so. So take your time. Investigate.”
In addition, the Huffington Post reported, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told The Baltimore Sun on September 26 that the accusations were “disturbing” and gave him “great pause.”
He noted,“There are credible charges and big concerns. They need to be heard,” he said after an event in Montgomery County. “They ought to take whatever time it takes to make sure these accusers are heard and he has a chance to respond to them.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who, as a committee member, had adamantly defended the nominee during the hearings on September 27—told CNN after the committee vote that he did not think the delay was necessary, but “this is democracy.” He added, “If Jeff feels better about it, I’ll feel better about it,”
Currently, according to Fox News, 56% of U.S. voters would delay the full Senate floor confirmation process on Kavanaugh to allow for more investigation of the allegations against him; and 31% would not delay.
Rsearch contact: @foxnewspoll