Kavanaugh allegations revive fervor over crucial Supreme Court pick

Republicans and the White House are mounting a robust effort to shield Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh af...

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 12:07 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2018 12:07 PM

Republicans and the White House are mounting a robust effort to shield Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh after an anonymous woman accused him of sexual misconduct in the 1980s, rocking his confirmation process.

But Kavanaugh is not the only one feeling political heat. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who learned about the allegations in a letter from the woman dated July 30, is taking fire from Kavanaugh's GOP backers who see the controversy as a character smear and from progressives in her party who said the California senator sat on explosive accusations.

Abortion

Abortion rights

Brett Kavanaugh

Dianne Feinstein

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Health and medical

Medical treatments and procedures

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

Sexual and reproductive health

Societal issues

Society

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US federal court system

US federal government

US political parties

US Republican Party

US Senate

US Supreme Court

California

Continents and regions

North America

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

The episode has sent tensions between and inside both parties back to the boiling point over a nomination that could reshape the court for decades. Ill feeling was already deep after Democrats complained the GOP is rushing Kavanaugh through without proper scrutiny by withholding tens of thousands of documents.

The confirmation showdown has also offered key Democrats considering a run for President in 2020 an early forum, with California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker both winning points with liberal activists, even as they were accused of grandstanding by Republicans.

The accusations against Kavanaugh are being used by liberals to undercut the White House effort to present him as a family man and advocate of women and girls, in part to blunt Democratic accusations that he would vote to overturn the right to an abortion.

Kavanaugh, currently an appeals court judge in Washington, has categorically and unequivocally denied the accusations, and Republicans are furious that his opponents are openly debating them even in the absence of any evidence that they are true. The alleged incident, while Kavanaugh was in high school, was not investigated at the time and there is no sign that the woman reported it to police.

But the pivotal importance of the open Supreme Court seat means the controversy is only going to escalate ahead of an expected Judiciary Committee vote on the Kavanagh nomination next week.

Further fueling the debate, Anita Hill, the attorney who convulsed the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with sexual assault allegations, issued a statement on Friday night.

"The reluctance of someone to come forward demonstrates that even in the #MeToo era, it remains incredibly difficult to report harassment, abuse or assault by people in power," Hill said.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee should put in place a process that enables anyone with a complaint of this nature to be heard. I have seen firsthand what happens when such a process is weaponized against an accuser, and no one should have to endure that again."

At this stage, there is no indication that Kavanaugh's nomination is under threat, owing to the GOP Senate majority and the huge incentive for Republicans to cement a conservative majority on the nation's top bench.

The woman who made the allegations declined to come forward publicly after making them in a letter that was passed to Feinstein. Advocates say her anonymity should be respected, that she deserves to be heard and the claims must be investigated.

But absent new developments, perhaps on the scale of an on the record, public accusation against Kavanaugh, it is hard to see Republican senators bowing to Democratic pressure to act. Democrats could call for new public or private sessions in the Judiciary Committee to address the allegations. But all of their efforts to shape the confirmation process have been rebuffed by Republicans.

As soon as whispers of the allegations became public on Thursday, the White House accused Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of using them as an 11th hour delaying tactic to try to slow Kavanaugh's confirmation -- and noted that Feinstein has not previously raised the issue in public.

On Friday, as more and more media outlets reported the allegations, the office of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley released an 11-point statement that was unusually personal in its criticism of Feinstein.

It said that the California senator failed to attend a closed-door session of the committee where sensitive material was discussed, and in which the letter was not referenced.

Grassley's office also sent around a letter signed by 65 women who have known the nominee for 35 years that says that at all times he has "behaved honorably and treated women with respect."

Another key Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah complained the accusations were unverified and said the judge had submitted to six FBI background checks over the last 25 years that included interviews with families, friends and acquaintances and never revealed any character issues.

"I do not intend to allow Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation to be stalled because of an 11th hour accusation that Democrats did not see fit to raise for over a month," Hatch said in a statement.

Politically, the only threat to Kavanaugh's confirmation appears to lie in the votes of two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have been under fierce pressure from pro-choice advocates to reject him, since he is seen as likely to support cases that could overturn the right to an abortion.

Kavanaugh went ahead with a planned call with Collins that lasted an hour on Friday. The Maine senator's staff declined to give any details of the conversation.

Should the controversy escalate, it could also change the political terrain for red-state Democrats who are under pressure from the party's liberal base to reject Kavanaugh and from their own conservative voters to vote to confirm him.

The political ramifications of the allegations were not confined to questions about Kavanaugh.

Feinstein was left facing an unwelcome new assault from her progressive challenger in California's jungle primary system, state Sen. Kevin de León, who has been framing her as Washington veteran who has lost touch with her voters.

He demanded to know why Feinstein had "waited nearly three months" to hand over the letter to federal authorities and why she had "politely pantomimed her way" through confirmation hearings with no mention of it.

Questions about why Feinstein did not act on information that at the very least could be a seen as a way to slow or disrupt Kavanaugh's nomination are also puzzling Capitol Hill Democrats.

Feinstein's staff tried to stall the fast-building political controversy on Friday afternoon.

A spokesman for the California senator said she took the allegations seriously and thought they should be made public but was constrained by the accuser's wish to remain anonymous.

"It is critical in matters of sexual misconduct to protect the identity of the victim when they wish to remain anonymous, and the senator did so in this case."

The furor over the letter has exposed the awkward spot that Feinstein has faced in the Kavanaugh nomination. In the hearings, she posed pointed legal questions to the nominee on issues such as his attitude towards abortion and interrogations of terror suspects during the Bush administration.

But her interventions lacked the partisan energy of senators like Booker and Harris.

Progressive groups were quick to respond to the allegations about Kavanaugh. The "Rise up for Roe" group of activists said he should "immediately withdraw from consideration."

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said the allegation should be taken seriously while respecting the privacy of the woman who made the allegations.

"Once cast, senators cannot take back their vote. They need to be sure they have Kavanaugh's full record before they proceed on his nomination to the Supreme Court," the group's President and CEO, Vanita Gupta, said.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: °
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Williamsport
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Some storms with some severe weather risk...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 767409

Reported Deaths: 13980
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1054251805
Lake569191030
Allen42938698
St. Joseph37313568
Hamilton37298426
Elkhart29749470
Tippecanoe23479230
Vanderburgh23201405
Porter19573327
Johnson18822392
Hendricks18072321
Madison13548346
Clark13533198
Vigo12834256
LaPorte12566225
Monroe12546178
Delaware11143198
Howard10672237
Kosciusko9777124
Hancock8740150
Bartholomew8262157
Warrick8069157
Floyd8027182
Grant7366181
Wayne7233201
Boone7184105
Morgan6910143
Marshall6332116
Dubois6274118
Cass6090111
Dearborn601278
Noble599290
Henry5947111
Jackson516377
Shelby510898
Lawrence4922127
Gibson462696
Montgomery458192
Clinton455255
DeKalb455285
Harrison453577
Whitley415745
Huntington415582
Steuben410660
Miami405573
Jasper401155
Knox388391
Putnam385062
Wabash369083
Adams352956
Ripley351271
Jefferson341886
White339654
Daviess3090100
Wells303581
Greene293485
Decatur292593
Fayette286364
Posey281735
Scott280058
LaGrange277572
Clay273348
Washington254037
Randolph247783
Jennings239449
Spencer238731
Fountain235250
Starke229859
Owen222659
Sullivan221343
Fulton208345
Jay202932
Carroll197322
Orange191156
Perry189739
Vermillion180844
Rush177527
Tipton172747
Franklin171935
Parke155216
Pike141734
Blackford138032
Pulaski123648
Newton123036
Benton109715
Brown106043
Crawford105616
Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8348
Union73610
Ohio58111
Unassigned0428

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events