A Supreme Divide: Brett Kavanaugh's Confirmation Process

Oct 1, 2018
Originally published on October 2, 2018 11:11 am

On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh forward to a vote on the Senate floor.

But it wasn’t without some drama.

After Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ari., announced that he would support Kavanaugh, he was confronted by two women who said they were survivors of sexual assault. Watch what happened.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” one of them said, as Flake hung his head. “You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter!”

Flake spoke first before the vote on the Judiciary Committee, and asked for an FBI investigation lasting not longer than a week on the allegations Christine Blasey Ford made about Brett Kavanaugh.

From NPR:

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote — after Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake asked for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be delayed on the Senate floor by one week in order to ask for an FBI investigation “limited in time and scope” to further look into allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

The surprising move came after some behind-the-scenes drama on the committee, which delayed a planned vote by about 30 minutes as Flake was huddled outside the room with both Democrats and Republicans to relay his concerns.

Flake then returned and announced he would vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate with the understanding that his request would be honored.

“I think that we ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination this important,” Flake said. He noted he’d talked with other Democrats who had been “justifiably uncomfortable” moving forward, and that this proposal might help heal the country which is being “ripped apart.”

But supporters of Kavanaugh pushed back, notably Senator Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.

The editors at The Weekly Standard outlined why they thought Kavanaugh should be confirmed as well.

Brett Kavanaugh is being presumed guilty by Senate Democrats, and by most of the reporters covering the story, without a scintilla of evidence to corroborate the claims made against him. And Ford’s was the most credible of the wild charges Kavanaugh’s opponents leveled. In the last week, Democrats have lobbed one unsubstantiated claim after another at the nominee. And many of the same media outlets that have proclaimed a renewed fidelity to facts and truth in the Trump era have repeated these claims—and amplified them—without even pretending to establish their veracity.

“I ask you to apply the standard you would like to apply to your father, your brother, your son,” Kavanaugh said before the committee. Is guilty-until-proven-innocent a standard we want in this country?

The public also focused on Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who have not released decisions on how they planned to vote.

Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who voted for Neil Gorsuch, said he would not vote for Kavanaugh, as well as Senator Doug Jones of Alabama.

What’s to come of all of this emotion and political posturing? How should we treat the other women who have brought forth claims of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, but did not have the opportunity to testify in front of the Senate committee? How much influence do individual constituents have over the votes of these key senators?

Produced by Morgan Givens. Text by Gabrielle Healy.


Brian Fitzpatrick, Professor, Vanderbilt Law School; former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia (2001-2002)

Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO, The National Constitution Center; professor at The George Washington University Law School; author of “William Howard Taft” and “Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet” @RosenJeffrey

Elizabeth Wydra, President, Constitutional Accountability Center, a public interest law firm and think tank based in Washington D.C. @ElizabethWydra

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