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The Battalion

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Kavanaugh in the hot seat

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Photo by Via Creative Commons
Supreme Court building

With an 11-10 vote along party lines Friday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee brought Judge Brett Kavanaugh one step closer to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But the political saga surrounding President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee is far from over.
The committee’s vote came in the wake of allegations against Kavanaugh by three women who claim he sexually assaulted them and argue that he is not fit for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Now, it’s up to the full Senate to confirm or deny Kavanaugh’s appointment. The vote will be delayed however,as Trump has ordered the FBI to reopen their background investigation on Kavanaugh to look into the sexual assault claims by Oct. 5, according to the Associated Press.
Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and the first woman to speak out about Kavanaugh, testified before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Kavanaugh was given a chance to respond to the allegations.
Ford claims Kavanaugh made unwanted advances while drunk at a house party in high school, pushing her into a bedroom along with his friend Mark Judge. Ford said Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed and groped her while putting his hand over her mouth. She said she was able to escape, but was “too afraid and ashamed” to tell anyone what happened.
“I am here today not because I want to be,” Ford said in her statement. “I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations, claiming in his prepared statement that all the accusations against him are “last-minute smears, pure and simple.” Kavanaugh suggested Ford may have been assaulted by someone else, but maintains it was not him.
“The truth is that I have never sexually assaulted anyone — not in high school, not in college, not ever,” Kavanaugh said.
Both Ford and Kavanaugh testified under oath that they were “100 percent” sure of their recollections, but if evidence arises proving either one was lying, they could be tried for perjury.
Many saw a striking resemblance between Thursday’s hearing and Judge Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing in 1991, during which Thomas denied accusations of sexual harassment from his former aide Anita Hill. Thomas was eventually approved and serves on the Supreme Court currently.
Like Kavanaugh, Thomas said he believed the accusation was a political attack. During the Thomas hearings, there was an outcry against a white, all-male panel of senators grilling the black, female Hill. This time around, Republican senators concerned about optics brought in sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to assist them in questioning Ford.
Despite the supplemental FBI investigation and presence of Mitchell, the senators on the committee made it clear that a confirmation hearing is closer to a public job interview than a criminal trial. It is an attempt to help senators to make an informed decision on a nominee, not prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
Though they did not testify in front of the Senate, two other women have come forward with claims of sexual harassment against Kavanaugh. According to The New Yorker, Deborah Ramirez claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and engaged in unwanted touching at a party at Yale University while both were drunk. As part of the renewed investigation, the FBI has reached out to Ramirez.
The third accuser, Julie Swetnick, knew Kavanaugh in high school and is a long-time federal employee with several active security clearance statuses. Swetnick’s lawyer released her client’s sworn statement Wednesday on Twitter, in which Swetnick claimed that she was drugged and gang raped at a party by a group of boys, including Kavanaugh.
The “he said, she said” nature of the confirmation process has sparked national debate about how survivors of sexual assault are treated and the increasingly politicized nature of the Supreme Court. The events surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination will likely be on the minds of voters as midterm elections approach.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation would shift the leaning of the Supreme Court decidedly to the right, and the nation is watching to see how it all plays out.

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