Brett Kavanaugh’s first Supreme Court confirmation delay: A public hearing on sexual assault allegations

Not so smooth sailing for the shoo-in nominee.
Not so smooth sailing for the shoo-in nominee.
Image: Reuters/Jim Bourg
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On Monday, Sept. 24, US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will return to the Senate for a pubic hearing. This time, he won’t be answering questions about his judicial philosophy or his politics but about his personal character and his actions as a teenager.

Also at the hearing will be Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor in California who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both in high school.

Blasey Ford came forward in a story in the Washington Post on Sept. 16 after news of her accusations broke last week. She says that when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17, he and his friend Mark Judge corralled her into a room at a party and that Kavanaugh jumped her while muffling her protests.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

This afternoon, Donald Trump told reporters that the judge is “respected by everybody” and “never even had a little blemish on his record.” Although the president pointed out that Kavanaugh was thoroughly vetted by the FBI, he conceded that investigating the allegations may be necessary. “He is somebody very special. At the same time, we want to go through a process. We want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right.”

The president complained that Democrats waited until late in the confirmation process to act on Blasey Ford’s accusations, which Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein knew about since July. “But with all of it being said, we want to go through a full process,” Trump said. “I have great confidence in the US Senate and in their procedures and what they’re doing and I think that’s probably what they’re going to do. They’ll go through a process and hear everybody out. I think it’s important. I believe they think it’s important.”

Trump dismissed queries about withdrawing Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court altogether, however. “Next question,” he replied. “What a ridiculous question.”

The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that supports Kavanaugh’s nomination, announced this afternoon that it is launching a $1.5 million national cable and digital ad campaign featuring Louisa Garry, a 35-year friend of Judge Kavanaugh, who will attest to his respect for women and good character.

Whether efforts to defend the judge will save his nomination or secure his confirmation is unclear, however. Just last week, Kaanaugh seemed like a shoo-in for confirmation. Now, he’s got another week of grueling pressure ahead of the impromptu hearing scheduled next week.

Senate Judiciary Committee chief Charles Grassley won’t say at this point when the committee intends to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation—if at all. The public hearing next Monday is the only certain step ahead.