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Showdown in the Senate

Vote for Supreme Court nominee looms after excruciating day of testimony

Showdown in the Senate

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. (Tom Williams/AP)

(Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday afternoon voted along party lines to approve the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., voted for the nomination but called for an FBI investigation of the accusations against Kavanaugh before the full Senate votes on the nomination. At the committee’s request, President Donald Trump on Friday ordered an FBI investigation into any “current credible” sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh, to be completed within one week.)

In an extraordinary day on Capitol Hill, senators heard anguished testimony on Thursday from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school.

In an excruciating and explosive hearing that lasted more than eight hours, Ford and Kavanaugh each offered testimony and answered questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Ford’s accusations.

By the end of the day, the picture remained as divided as it was at the beginning: Ford testified she was 100 percent sure Kavanaugh assaulted her. Kavanaugh testified he was 100 percent sure he didn’t attack Ford or any other woman.

Both appeared sincere and heartbroken.

In such a difficult conundrum, perhaps the only way to parse through the situation is to examine evidence. While Ford offered compelling testimony during her portion of the hearing, she did not provide corroborating evidence, and the firsthand witnesses she cited haven't backed up her claims. Kavanaugh noted that other people Ford has claimed were at a party where she says an attack took place have said they don’t remember such a gathering.

Ford described an attack in the summer of 1982 at a gathering with friends. She said Kavanaugh jumped on top of her in a bedroom and tried to remove her clothing, while another classmate, Mike Judge, looked on. Judge has said he doesn’t recall such an incident.

Ford said she does remember the event, and she described “uproarious laughter” between the two boys as an indelible memory. She said the attack had caused lifelong struggles with anxiety and trauma.

In a hallway outside the hearing room, committee member Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he “found no reason not to find her credible,” but said he also wanted to hear from Kavanaugh later in the day.

During his testimony, Kavanaugh said he was not questioning that Ford “may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time,” but he insisted he did not attack her.

Kavanaugh appeared indignant as he began his testimony, decrying the committee’s last-minute handling of Ford’s accusations, and saying some members of the panel were on a mission to “search and destroy.”

But he grew emotional as he described the toll the process had taken on his family, including his young daughters. He broke into tears when he recounted his 10-year-old daughter recently telling his wife during her bedtime prayers: “We should pray for the woman.”

Kavanaugh’s exchanges with Democratic senators grew testy, and at one point he apologized to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., for questioning her drinking habits after she questioned his drinking history.

Republicans were less apologetic about their angst, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., exploding in anger over the Democrats’ handling of the process, calling it “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote for Friday afternoon on whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. A full-Senate vote could come as early as next week, but at least three Republican senators remained undecided about their votes by Thursday evening: Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. (On Friday morning, Flake announced he still had “doubt” about the testimony but would vote to confirm Kavanaugh.)

The Senate vote promises to widen the already-acerbic divides between Republicans and Democrats less than six weeks ahead of midterm elections, where both chambers of Congress could hang in the balance.

—This story has been updated with information about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s scheduled vote.

Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean

Jamie is WORLD’s national editor based in Charlotte, N.C. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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  •  JenniMiki70's picture
    JenniMiki70
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 01:05 pm

    Thank you, Jamie and WORLD, for your excellent coverage and keeping your story about facts, not feelings.  The law must stand, especially when talking about a potential SCOTUS judge.

    If this happened to the lady, I'm sorry for her, but if it was Kavanaugh, she has provided no proof.  The rest of his life has given no indication that her memory is who he is.  No one has coroborated her story.  Worst of all, she didn't remember for certain it was him until 3 weeks ago.  I think we should try to believe victims, but right questions must be asked; we can't believe with blind faith when it can destroy another person.

    Remember the man who was accused in 1984 for a rape and was released in 1995 due to DNA evidence?  The woman was sure it was him. She's now friends with him, so he's obviously forgiven her, but he lost 11 years of his life and was labeled a sexual predator. He and God only know what prices he paid in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

    I'm praying that God will lead these men and women to vote according to the facts.  I believe Brett Kavanaugh will be an honest, constitutional judge and also pray that politics won't prevent his being named to the court. 

    Disclaimer: I'm a constitutional conservative who leans towards conservatism. That said, I would feel the exact same way if the GOP and Dems traded seats in this debacle.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 02:52 pm

    My thinking has changed a bit over the last couple of days. No, not about Judge Kavanaugh: I believe he is innocent of the various charges of sexual misconduct and I believe he would be an excellent conservative voice on the Supreme Court. 

    But what if the vote goes against confirmation?  Then, what if President Trump nominates another equally qualified and upright conservative, who is also shot down by the left for spurious reasons?  

    I believe the result would be that most Americans’ eyes would be fully opened to the radical agenda, total partisanship, uncompromising nature, and actual unreasonableness of the hard-corps part of the Democratic Party. And the prospects of the Democrats, particularly the radical core, would be substantially diminished. 

    So would I view a failure to confirm Judge Kavanaugh as a loss?  No!  Absolutely not, in the long run!  And to me, ideally this would all take place in the few weeks remaining BEFORE the mid-term elections. 

    I believe that would then clear the way for President Trump to nominate and get confirmed the conservative Justice this Nation needs. I would even say he could re-nominate Judge Kavanaugh and get him confirmed. 

    In all eventualities, the Lord of Creation is in control!

  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 03:14 pm

    I must add: of course, if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, that indeed is a victory for the Nation. I’m just pointing out, I believe victory will come no matter which way this confirmation vote goes. 

  • SG
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 03:28 pm

    If he is rejected, perhaps Amy Barrett should be nominated.  I doubt they can make a sexual allegation against her stick and we would get a pro life justice...

  • Laura W
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 07:03 pm

    This makes me think of some of the things I read in "Convicting the Innocent". In many cases, victims of a crime (usually rape or attempted rape) initially made a very tentative identification of a perpetrator out of a lineup or some such. However, in nearly every case, often with some encouragement from the police ("that's our suspect", etc.), the victim was extremely confident of her identification on trial day. And that's all the jury got to see--not the hesitation and uncertainty beforehand. Of course, given the title of the book, in all these cases the victim was wrong about the identity of her assaulter, as was later proven by DNA testing, which often was able to identify the real culprit.

    My thought is this: What if Ford really was assaulted at a party back then, and the assailant was someone she didn't actually know, but who looked somewhat like Kavanaugh. (Remember, she didn't know him well.) She didn't make any sort of formal report at the time, and did her best to recover from the trauma of the assault. Now suppose she noticed an uncanny resemblance between the man all over the news and the one who attacked her so many years ago. Further suppose she brought her concerns to someone with a vested interest in thwarting his confirmation. Is it at all unlikely that she would feel "100% sure" of her accusation by the time of the hearings? If she has been manipulated in this way, I sure hope whoever is responsible for that further abuse will be held accountable for it. May the truth come to light.

  • Dan S's picture
    Dan S
    Posted: Fri, 09/28/2018 09:45 pm

    Jamie, you left out one important fact. In 2012 at a counselling session, long before anyone had any idea that Brett Kananaugh would be a candidate for the supreme court, Christine Blasey Ford was at a counselling session and recounted this event as something she could never forget.  I think that, and the fact that she was willing to take and pass a lie detection test, forces the burden of proof onto Mr. Kavanaugh. His only proof was that Mark Judge asserted Kavanaugh would never do such a thing.

    Well, Mark Judge isn't known for his uprightness nor sobriety. So I think it remains to the FBI to try to get something true out of Mark Judge. Beyond that, in Kavanaugh and Judge's high school year book neither one appears as a saint but seeming to be renowned for beer drinking and sexual conquest.

    Dan Schafer

  • Debi
    Posted: Sat, 09/29/2018 12:43 am

    Dan Schafer, Please do not continue the slander of Judge Kavanaugh !! 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sat, 09/29/2018 03:06 am

    Unless new information I'm not aware of has come out, she did not name who assaulted her to the counselor. I don't doubt that someone assaulted her, but who? And supposing Kavanaugh is innocent, is there any way he could prove it to your satisfaction? See my comment above.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Sat, 09/29/2018 02:56 pm

    Dan, we also know Professor Christine Blasey Ford, while working for Stanford University, was associated with Corcept Therapeutics (2006-2011) where she participated in studies related to mifepristone. This is the same ingredient sometimes called “the abortion pill” or RU-486 which is used for abortion. Although, the use was not related to abortion, the company has concerns about regulatory changes (such as banning abortion) which could seriously impact their business, if the ingredient, mifepristone, was made illegal. The concern over regulatory changes is stated in their SEC filings. Professor Christine Blasey Ford was “director of biostatistics at Corcept” described by Wikipedia, with the company having $1.66 billion market capital worth, and current annual sales of $216 million. The point being that both the company and Professor Christine Blasey Ford have a vested interest in seeing Kavanaugh kept off the Supreme Court, given his pro-life leaning. 

    The point about her passing the lie detector test is meaningless given that we don’t know the details related to how it was administration and what questions she was given. Lie detector tests are not admissible in court because they are inaccurate. If someone wants to “fudge” them it is easy to do. The burden of proof always resides with the one bringing forward the charges! This is a core concept of our legal system where we never force the accused to prove a negative, which is near impossible especially when there is no date, time or location given for the supposed assault. 

    Kavanaugh never passed himself off as a saint but admitted that he did drink some to the point of being sick, but never passing out. He kept a detailed journal so he has records indicating where he was over the summer, with his focus on sports. 

    We must not lose focus on what this is about.  It is a political hit job to destroy Kavanaugh from being on the Supreme Court where big money has been given by Soros, abortion organizations, abortion companies, companies attached with interests related to abortion, Democrats and others who do not want a conservative on the Supreme Court! 

  • Ed Schick
    Posted: Sun, 09/30/2018 11:48 am

    By saying "His only proof was that Mark Judge asserted Kavanaugh would never do such a thing." are you saying the proofs that Judge Kavanaugh presented in his defense were invalid?

  • VISTA48
    Posted: Sat, 09/29/2018 06:35 am

    I am more certain than ever that the leftists are out of control. They do not care about Kavanaugh or his ability to serve. They do not care about Christine Ford or her ability to cope. They do not care about the country or our ability to thrive. They care only about their power and their political agenda. This whole thing has been a disgrace, and the conduct of the Democtratic members of the Senate has been despicable. 

  • RH
    Posted: Sat, 09/29/2018 07:12 am

    For me, the central issue here is guilty by accuasation. Essentially what we have here is someone, who says she was attacked roughly 35 years ago, who cannot remember where  it occured, or how or why at age 15 she was at a house where no adults were present and alcohol was being consumed..Yet she can remember with the utmost clarity two people, one who just happens to be President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court. She essentially has no proof an attack occured, except some people believe her and have heard about an incident or something like it...And on this basis, we are suppoed to give her national attention and believability, even though this attack will never be proven to have actually occured. We are in essence giving her the power to destroy a man's life and reputation because we live in a time of national paranoia over women's issues. Nevermind, that our foundation as a nation is based upon presuemd innocense until actually proven guilty, in this case we must throw that out the window, because of the current political correctness environment in the country. We must give this woman's supposed 35 year old claim the priority over due process. The unfortunate reality we have thrown in the garabage bin, is the reality that if you can't prove a crime, there is no crime............And you have no right to be given a platform to present your claim as though it is the Gospel truth according to you because you say it happened and therefore it did.......Which is a charge without evidence or proof. Add once we establish this irrational nonsense, justice will take a back seat to tyranny and our legal system will become an even bigger joke than it is presently.

  • Cbusht
    Posted: Sun, 09/30/2018 12:15 am

    It dawned on me this evening that another favorite author, Nancy Pearcey, whose book, Love Thy Body, gives an excellent understanding of what today's impetus against Brett Kavanaugh consist. Nancy explains with great historical background, the "fact/value split" that is occurring when people separate gender from biological sex. Biological sex is fact. Today, gender is determined in the realm of "values" disassociated from a facts of biological sex. Hence, the "fact/value split".

    Nancy goes on to write describing us as created "embodied beings." One whole "ball of wax" - my term...this and so much more... ( can you hear another book recommendation here?) whispered... https://www.amazon.com/Love-Thy-Body-Answering-Questions/dp/0801075726

    This week's reasoning by so many represent a "fact/value split" in a different way. Facts are irrelevant. Determining facts is irrelevant. The accuser of Brett Kavanaugh has [[[[ her truth ]]]] to tell and regardless of facts, [[[[ her truth ]]]] has it that Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. Whether he is or not is superfluous. Facts and value are divorced.

    Jeff Flake was hit full force with the fact/value split as he was cornered on the elevator by women expressing their values, supporting Christina Blasey Ford's "truth."

    See Pearcey's book for more on even how the SCOTUS succumbed to the fact/value split in Roe v.Wade. "Fetuses" are "human" but not "persons"??!!

     

  • DAD
    Posted: Sun, 09/30/2018 02:07 pm

    This is an excellent analysis AND puts the guilt where it belongs: on the fact that biological sex is not a fact, and has no value.  Thank you for your post. 

  • DAD
    Posted: Mon, 10/01/2018 10:42 pm

    Please read using the FBI as a source for discrepancies in the legislative course of action.  It is illegal.  The FBI only investigates criminal action cases.  Thomas Jipping is an authority at the Heritage Foundation, in  Washington, DC as you know.   All the illegality that has come into the Kavanaugh matter!   Even President Trump took on Senators Flake's absurd suggestion to use the FBI.  Now the matter will not be settled at all.      The rabid evil and power to control in Senator Feinstein should not control the level of righteousness anywhere.  More than 80 years of age, she is full of dementia also.  PLUS what about the Prosecute Mitchell evaluation of Dr. Ford's testimony: not nearly enough evidence AND inconsistent response to her questions.   

    Why Another FBI Investigation of Kavanaugh Would Be Pointless

    Thomas Jipping, Heritage Foundation, September 28, 2018

    Campaigns of whatever sort often adopt a mantra, a phrase, or even a single word that’s repeated over and over to advance the campaign’s goals. The campaign against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is no different, and its latest mantra is “FBI investigation.” Let’s look at this mantra’s objectives and its validity.

    The call for another FBI investigation, which dominated the Sept. 27 hearing about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh, appears to have multiple partisan objectives, based on statements made by those opposed to his confirmation.

    First, Kavanaugh’s opponents have expressed hope that the continued controversy will help defeat the nomination. Barring that, they have indicated that they want to drag the process out at least past Election Day. Third, according to Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Democrats would keep this seat open until President Donald Trump leaves office if they win control of the Senate in the upcoming election.

    This demand for another FBI investigation is not valid and is based on a complete misunderstanding of the bureau’s role. First, Kavanaugh’s opponents want people to think that the FBI is on standby, ready to run down all the leads and figure out what really happened.

    That may be what a law enforcement agency does in the criminal justice system—…….—BUT not in the confirmation process.

    The DISTINCTION between the criminal justice system and the confirmation process IS CRITICAL.

    The FBI is in the executive branch, which has authority over the criminal justice system. The confirmation process, however, occurs in the legislative branch. The Constitution gives the Senate sole responsibility for evaluating presidential nominees.

    In the criminal justice system, the FBI investigates by not only gathering information but evaluating it, making judgments about the credibility of witnesses or the truth of what they say, pursuing leads, and offering conclusions or even recommendations. In other words, they figure out what really happened.

    In the confirmation process, the FBI gathers information and stops there. The Senate must do the rest. In fact, as CBS News recently described it, the FBI “conducts a background check at the request of the White House, mainly to determine whether the nominee would pose a risk to national security interests of the United States, according to the Justice Department.”

    That has already been done.

    It’s worth noting that this “full-field” FBI investigation has been conducted every time Kavanaugh was hired or appointed to a significant government position.

    Six times between 1993 and 2018, the FBI went talking to people about Kavanaugh.

    SIX TIMES all after the incident that Ford alleges, the FBI never heard anyone even whisper a word about sexual misconduct.

    Kavanaugh’s opponents not only want people to think that

    the FBI has a criminal justice role in the confirmation process, but they mislead people to think that if the FBI does not jump in, there will be no investigation of Ford’s allegation.

    OPPOSITON TO THE JUDICIARY ARE INCORRECT, WRONG.

    THE PEOPLE ACTUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTIGATNIG THESE ALLEGATIONS  ARE THE JUDICIARY  COMMITTEE  ITSELF.

    The people actually responsible for investigating these allegations are the Judiciary Committee’s own investigative staff and they have been hard at work for more than two weeks. The list of steps they have taken is nearly six pages long.