On Saturday, Brett Kavanaugh was quietly sworn in as the 114th justice of the United States Supreme Court after the Senate voted 50 to 48 to approve his confirmation. The only Senators to break from party lines were Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D). It was the narrowest voting margin for a Supreme Court confirmation since 1881.
The Senate vote was cast as thousands of protesters, led by survivors of sexual violence and their allies, swarmed the grounds of the Capitol and Supreme Court in opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination. Women in the Senate gallery screamed “Shame” as moderate Senators cast their votes in favor of Kavanaugh.
“Tens of thousands of survivors made themselves vulnerable and spoke out against putting an accused sexual predator on the Supreme Court, testifying on the importance of believing survivors,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority and Feminist Majority Foundation. “We have a responsibility to them to keep this movement alive in the streets, with policies like a robust and well-funded Violence Against Women Act, and at the ballot box.”
The vote followed weeks of protest and outrage over the sexual assault allegations made against Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
On Wednesday, the FBI completed a report on those allegations, but their investigation did not include interviews with Dr. Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh, or any of the dozens of people who said they could corroborate significant parts of the two women’s allegations. Republicans were quick to point to the lack of corroborating witnesses as proof of Kavanaugh’s innocence.
“The White House and Senate majority are pointing to a rushed and limited FBI report as if it sheds any light on the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh,” said Smeal. “It patently does not because the investigation that produced it was purposely designed to give cover to nervous Senators who want to vote yes, not get to the truth.”
The condensed FBI investigation was conducted after numerous Republican Senators raised concern over the allegations. On September 28, the day of the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake announced that unless there was an FBI investigation into the allegations, he would not support Kavanaugh’s nomination in a Senate floor vote. Senators Manchin and Collins seconded his call for an investigation. All three Senators eventually voted in favor of Kavanaugh.
Republican’s empty demands for an FBI investigation came after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave credible, fruitful, and impactful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in which she stated that she was one hundred percent certain that Kavanaugh is the man who sexually assaulted her when she was 15. Kavanaugh followed her appearance with his own testimony, during which he lost his temper and peddled in conspiracy theories against the Democrats.
Progressive groups were working to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination even before the sexual assault allegations emerged. Kavanaugh is “a right-wing political operative, a jurist who thinks the president should be above the law, and an opponent of abortion and birth control access.” Learn more here.
Media Resources: New York Times 10/6/18; Feminist Majority 10/6/18, 10/4/18