SHOULD “IDEOLOGY” OR “QUALIFICATIONS” DETERMINE AN APPOINTMENT?

by Sharon Rondeau

(Oct. 4, 2018) — At 7:24 p.m. EDT, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted that the Senate will convene tomorrow morning at 9:30 and a vote “to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court will be at 10:30.”

As noted in McConnell’s Twitter feed, he invoked cloture on Kavanaugh’s nomination Wednesday night, meaning that the debate period opened last Friday night was closed.

Kavanaugh’s nomination July 9 was followed by Senate Democrats, led by Charles Schumer (D-NY), vowing to keep him from assuming the vacant seat on the high court held for 30 years by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

On September 16, an article in The Washington Post reported that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.  As might have been expected, the bombshell revelation spiraled into chaos the confirmation process widely expected to proceed to a Senate Judiciary Committee vote within days.

Ford reportedly provided notes from her therapist to whom she allegedly confided about the assault in 2012; however, during sworn testimony last Thursday to the committee, Ford said she was unable to recall whether or not she provided portions of the actual notes to The Post or if she simply read “a summary” to the reporter.

The committee had offered to meet with Ford privately in California “or anywhere,” something of which she appeared to have been unaware during last week’s hearing.

According to committee senators today, in its new investigation into the claims made against Kavanaugh by not only Ford, but also another woman, Deborah Ramirez, the FBI gleaned no corroboration from ten witnesses interviewed between Friday night and Tuesday.

Committee Senators spent Thursday reading the “302s,” or written reports from FBI agents who conducted the interviews, in a secretive room at the U.S. Capitol known as “the Skiff.” The report is not considered releasable to the public, although Senators have summarized the material they reviewed to inform the public of the FBI’s findings.

At 2:45 PM EDT on Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans held a press conference, delayed from 11:00 AM, in which they stated their extreme disappointment with how the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), handled her receipt of Ford’s letter requesting confidentiality dated July 30, 2018. Feinstein did not divulge the existence of the letter until several days before The Post‘s article was published.

Feinstein insisted last week that neither she nor any of her aides leaked the existence of the letter or Ford’s identity to the press.

While Senate Democrats said they believed Ford’s account from her testimony last Thursday, Republicans maintained that Kavanaugh must be afforded the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” with the absence of corroborating evidence.

Ford never filed a criminal complaint, even after the Montgomery County Police Department announced Friday that it was open to reviewing any complaints about alleged criminal behavior occurring in its jurisdiction.

Ford alleged that in 1982, Kavanaugh attacked her while drunk, in the presence of his friend, Mark Judge, in a bedroom on the second floor of an unidentified home in suburban Washington, DC. The four witnesses, including Judge, who Ford named as able to corroborate her accusation denied having been present at any such gathering or witnessing any such behavior on Kavanaugh’s part.

One of the four, Ford’s best friend, Leland Ingham Keyser, denied ever having been acquainted with Kavanaugh or with him at any gathering.  However, Keyser said she “did not doubt” Ford’s account.

On Friday the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Kavanaugh’s nomination on a party-line vote, 11-10, after which it went to the full Senate. At the committee’s request, President Trump ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation, its seventh of Kavanaugh since he began his public-service career more than 20 years ago, as senators from opposing parties accused one another of lying.

During the day on Thursday, “thousands” of demonstrators flocked into the Hart Senate Building to protest the Kavanaugh nomination, with more than 300 arrests, Fox News reported.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was in attendance, and comedian Amy Schumer was one of those arrested.

Left-leaning Americans and organizations fear that Kavanaugh will eventually play a pivotal role in revoking the opinion rendered by the court in Roe v. Wade in 1973, which is considered to have “legalized” the removal of a fetus, or abortion, up to 24 weeks of gestation for women throughout the country, with certain rare exceptions.

Although the FBI report apparently contains no new information or corroborative evidence from any of the witnesses interviewed, Democrats have largely said they will vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination. The Senate’s role in reviewing executive-branch federal appointments is “advice and consent,” but some observers say that the process has disintegrated into a fray over political ideology and not an individual’s qualifications.

 

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