Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to a full floor vote. This decision was made amidst the turmoil the committee has been in since Judge Kavanaugh’s hearings commenced on September 4, over a month ago. What was originally controversial due to Kavanaugh’s partisan affiliations during his time in the Bush Administration as well as the abrupt release of thousands of documents last minute became even more so when he was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Soon after, two additional allegations by other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, surfaced, raising more questions about the nominee. Political Science Major Emma Marie MacAfee (’21) stated, “What started as an interview for Supreme Court Justice, the highest un-elected position in the nation, has erupted into a spotlight on the most heated women’s issues. Now we find ourselves divided between those fighting for a better voice for justice and those blaming women and progressives for exposing their candidate’s shortcomings.”
Last Thursday, the day before voting to advance Kavanaugh, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the allegations, with both Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh presenting their side of the story. Ford was generally seen as composed and convincing, while even some Republicans took issue with the more emotional testimony of Kavanaugh. Many experts took issue with the limited amount of time the senators were given to question Ford and Kavanaugh. Additionally, the fact that the vote to advance Kavanaugh was scheduled before the hearing even took place made it suspect. After the vote took place, Republican Senator Jeff Flake voiced concerns with Kavanaugh’s credibility and stated he would not vote for him on the floor unless the FBI were allowed to conduct an investigation into the allegations.
Throughout the past week, the FBI conducted an investigation to appease more moderate Republicans as well as Democratic senators in red states. The investigation itself was constrained, however, both by a weeklong limited time frame as well as a short list of whom they were allowed to interview— a list which did not include Ford or Kavanaugh. Victoria Adams (’21) noted her concerns about the investigation, stated, “My biggest issue is that people on both sides are making assumptions before the FBI investigation is over, which makes the investigation itself seem meaningless.” On Oct. 4, a single copy of the FBI’s report was released, but no copies were allowed to be made. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not allow the FBI to present its findings to the Senate. Since the release of the report two of the hesitant Republicans, Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, appear to have reaffirmed their support for Kavanaugh by saying that the FBI report appears to be a “very thorough investigation.” The floor vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is expected to be scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6.