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Kavanaugh Appointment Heads to Unsteady Waters

Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the highest court of the country could stall with the recent revelation from a female accuser alleging Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

 Brett Kavanaugh in Senate Confirmation hearing. Photo:  Mark Peterson / Redux for The New Yorker

Brett Kavanaugh in Senate Confirmation hearing. Photo: Mark Peterson / Redux for The New Yorker

The revelation started last week, when Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), received a letter from an anonymous woman claiming Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The letter contained damaging information that accused Kavanaugh of “holding her down, and forcing himself on her” at a party when the two individuals were in high school.

When The Washington Post first reported the story, Kavanaugh dismissed the allegations and in a statement, said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this.” Plans from the Judiciary Committee to vote on the nominee on Sep. 20th were halted as tensions from both parties increased.

For Kavanaugh’s appointment to be successful, perhaps one of the most crucial votes will come from Republican Senator, Susan Collins (R-ME), who has previously casted doubt on the nominee. Shortly after the report, Collins said, “if Kavanaugh lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying.” Some of Collins’s republican colleagues have also called for further investigations, including Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), who said, “These are serious allegations that need to be looked at closely by the committee before any other action is taken.”

On Sunday, it was revealed that the woman accuser was Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California. Ford had noted that she had kept what had happened mostly to herself until 2012, when she had discussed the matter in a therapy session.

Democratic senators, mostly already in firm opposition against Kavanaugh, doubled down on their disapproval. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), took a shot at her Republican colleagues, saying they “ lack of understanding of how difficult it is to come forward with a story like this.”

 Senator Mazie Hirono and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo:  Erin Schaff / New Yorker / Redux

Senator Mazie Hirono and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo: Erin Schaff / New Yorker / Redux

Senators have suggested that it is important to take the accusations seriously, and are willing to open hearings to investigate the allegations. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested, “If [Christine Blasey] Ford wishes to provide information to the committee, I would gladly listen to what she has to say and compare that against all other information we have received about Judge Kavanaugh.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (D-IA), the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, has extended an offer for Ford to testify and address her story. On Saturday, lawyers representing Ford said in a statement, “Dr. Ford accepts the committee’s request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week.”

Ford’s willingness to testify could prove to be damaging to Kavanaugh’s road to appointment. Approval for Kavanaugh’s nominations are already low, with a Gallup poll finding that only 39% of Americans saying they favor his nomination, while 42% opposed. While Senate democrats will look to continue their fervent opposition, republicans will look to proceed the nomination before the November midterms.