Kavanaugh faces the Senate Judiciary Committee

“I like beer,” Judge Kavanaugh insists repeatedly while denying that he ever sexually assaulted anyone

by Noah Kotlarek

Staff SCOTUS Watcher

Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee—53-year-old,ultra-conservative, former Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh—was nominated on July 10th, 2018, but his path to confirmation has been riddled with controversy and rescheduling. To become confirmed a nominee must be vetted through hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee. On September 4th, 57 days after the nomination, the hearings commenced, and on September 7th, they closed. During Chairman Grassley’s hearing introduction, Senator Kamala Harris (a possible 2020 candidate) interrupted, saying that the Committee had received 42,000 pages to review in less than fifteen hours regarding the hearing, so they could not proceed. Senator Klobuchar, Blumenthal, and fellow Democrats on the committee joined in as Kavanaugh entered and took his seat. Members of the audience began shouting about postponement. For an hour, Democrats and Republicans argued over whether it was fair to start the hearings. Eventually, the hearing began.
On Sunday September 16th, the day before the Senate Judiciary Committee was to vote on the nominee’s confirmation, things took an unfortunate turn for Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford, a high school acquaintance of Kavanaugh’s, went public with her claim that, in 1982, when she was fifteen and he was seventeen, an intoxicated Kavanaugh pinned her down to a bed and “tried to disrobe [her].” Ford claims she was able to escape from Kavanaugh’s hold to a restroom. Kavanaugh maintains that the accusations are false. This accusation gave the ten Democrats of the committee another reason, in addition to the 42,000 pages, to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The postponement was successful, and the Committee decided that the confirmation process would not continue until Kavanaugh and Ford testified at a hearing scheduled for Monday, September 24th. The committee rescheduled the confirmation vote for Thursday, September 27th.
Before Kavanaugh and Ford could testify in the hearing on the 24th, Ford’s attorneys said would not be able to attend the Monday hearing as “she ha[d] received death threats…and she and her family ha[d] been forced out of their home.” Ford later announced that she could be present at a Thursday hearing on September 27th. So, the date was set for the 27th, pushing back the confirmation vote date.
On September 23rd, another accuser spoke out. Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate, claims Kavanaugh exposed his penis to her when the two were freshmen. Three days later, Michael Avenatti, esq. tweeted on behalf of his client, Julie Swetnick, saying she had seen Kavanaugh at high school parties where he and his friends participated in inappropriate sexual acts. Kavanaugh has denied all of these allegations.
At 10:00 AM on September 27th the hearing commenced. Ford opened by giving a descriptive and emotional testament of the night she claims Kavanaugh assaulted her. Of the most memorable images in her story, “I tried to yell for help…when I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most and has had the most lasting impact on my life.” Ford believes her testimony was a “civic duty.”
Kavanaugh believes his path to confirmation has been unfair, pointing out that if you combined all the FBI and American Bar investigations, hours of hearings, meetings with senators, and written questions ever put against a Supreme Court nominee it would be less than that which Kavanaugh has had to face. He seemed to be asking, what more do you want?
In an attempt to undermine the accusations set against him, Kavanaugh claimed that “throughout [his] 53 years and 7 months of life on this Earth no one ever accused [him] of any kind of sexual misconduct.” Perhaps, if the accusations are false, Kavanaugh really wanted to say was that the Democratic party has used the power of the #MeToo movement in effort to thwart a Republican from filling a seat in Supreme Court.
But even if Ford has not publicly called Kavanaugh out, that does not mean the accusations are untrue. In an affidavit to the Committee, Ford’s husband relays that Ford “shared the details of the sexual assault during a couple’s therapy session in 2012,” years before Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Notes from a therapy session in 2012 read that Ford was assaulted by students “from an elitist boys’ school” (Kavanaugh attended Georgetown Prep) and her assaulter “was a “highly respected and high-ranking member of society in Washington.” Psychologists argue that it is not so easy to come public about sexual assault. Victims may be ashamed or afraid of repercussions.
The next day, Friday, September 28th, the Committee was to decide the confirmation, but it was rescheduled. The Committee did not vote on the confirmation, but instead voted to advance the nomination to the entire Senate. The Committee has ordered the White House to file an FBI investigation of the sexual assault cases. For Kavanaugh to be confirmed, Republicans need all but one of their senators to vote for Kavanaugh, assuming all Democrats vote against him.

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