Metro Weekly

LGBTQ and progressive groups call on White House to withdraw Kavanaugh nomination

Supreme Court nominee and first of two accusers expected to testify before Congress on Sept. 27

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his family with President Trump – Photo: The White House.

At least two LGBTQ groups and several allied progressive groups are calling on President Trump to withdraw the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh after a second woman came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Kavanaugh, President Trump’s pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the nation’s highest court, seemed slated for an easy confirmation until last week, when Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of trying to take advantage of her at a house party in high school.

According to Ford, Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, were allegedly intoxicated when they cornered her in a bedroom, with Kavanaugh attempting to take off her clothes and covering her mouth with his hand. Judge allegedly jumped on the two, and Ford fell off the bed and escaped. 

Both Kavanaugh and Ford are expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Sept. 27, and the full committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination less than 24 hours later.

Democrats have called for the FBI to conduct a deeper background investigation into Kavanaugh to determine whether the charges against him are true, but both the White House and Senate Republicans have rejected that idea.

This week, Deborah Ramirez, who works at an organization that support victims of domestic violence, has claimed that when she was a student at Yale, Kavanaugh, a fellow student, exposed himself to her at a party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent. According to The New Yorker, Ramirez was reluctant to come forward because she had been drinking and was initially unsure of her memories. She has called for the FBI to investigate the incident.

As with Ford’s allegations, Kavanaugh has denied Ramirez’s accusations, saying in a statement: “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name — and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building — against these last-minute allegations.”

Thus far, no one else has been able to corroborate either Ford’s or Ramirez’s allegations.

LGBTQ groups and their progressive allies, many of whom previously denounced the rush to confirm Kavanaugh by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have called on those same Senate Republicans to refer the allegations to the FBI for a full investigation. They also called on the White House to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination after news of Ramirez’s accusations broke.

“Allegations of sexual violence should always be taken seriously and properly investigated.  The allegations of sexual misconduct brought forward by Dr. Ford, as well as the new claims brought to the public’s attention … should be immediately referred to the FBI for a full investigation,” Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal’s chief strategy officer and legal director, said in a statement.

“By refusing to do so, Senate Republicans demonstrate that they are incapable of taking their solemn responsibility seriously, and that they have learned little since Anita Hill’s hearing 27 years ago,” McGowan added. “In fact, there is no indication that Senate leadership will reconsider their reckless campaign to force Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination through. But we believe that there must be at least two Republicans of conscience who share our view that enough is enough.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights also called for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn.

“For any person seeking a lifetime position on the highest court in the land, the emergence of multiple allegations of sexual assault by credible individuals must be deemed disqualifying,” NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said in a statement. 

“No person has a right to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. The American people deserve nine Supreme Court justices who possess the highest level of integrity and moral character and, in particular, whose ability to rule impartially in cases about sexual violence and harassment is unquestioned,” added Minter. 

“Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations are detailed, credible, and corroborated by reports to third parties. And now, more individuals have come forward to share similar stories. These women are not on trial and have nothing to gain by coming forward. In fact, Dr. Ford and her family have been forced to leave their home under threat of violence,” Minter said. “The gravity of this pattern of alleged sexual assaults casts a troubling cloud on Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, echoed similar sentiments.

“It is appalling that some Senate Republicans learned of this new credible sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh last week, and instead of calling for the FBI to investigate them, they accelerated their efforts to ‘plow through’ these women and force a vote,” said Gupta, who headed the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice during the Obama administration.  “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and now Ms. Deborah Ramirez, are both rightly calling for the FBI to conduct a fair and nonpartisan investigation. Since Republicans will not allow this investigation to occur, Kavanaugh must withdraw.”

In an attempt to save his nomination, Kavanaugh appeared with his wife on Fox News for an interview with Martha MacCallum. Kavanaugh denied the allegations against him,  saying repeatedly that he was asking for a “fair process” that would allow him to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and clear his name.

On Tuesday, President Trump weighed in on Ramirez’s allegations, saying she “has nothing.”

“She admits that she was drunk. She admits time lapses,” the president told reporters during a bilateral meeting with the president of Colombia at the United Nations General Assembly. Trump echoed sentiments expressed by other right-wing media figures that Democrats are “playing a con game” to scuttle Kavanaugh’s nomination.

But progressives pounced on the remark, with Gupta saying: “The leader of the Republican Party is again blaming sexual assault survivors. This must stop. And it will only stop if members of his own party actually stand up to him and demand that these brave women alleging sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh be heard and respected.

“Republicans are facing a decency test,” added Gupta. “We know Donald Trump failed it long ago but the question is whether every Republican senator will fail as well.”

“President Trump is in no way qualified to assess the credibility of a survivor of sexual assault, and his tirade is an insult to survivors — as if an intoxicated woman should simply expect to be assaulted,” Marge Baker, the executive vice president of People for the American Way, said in a statement.

Bluntly, he should exercise some self-control and instead call for a thorough FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior, both in relation to Dr. Blasey Ford and Ms. Ramirez,” Baker added. “Failing to do so will simply inflame the situation further, needlessly traumatize other survivors who read his baseless assessments, and continue to highlight the irresponsibility of pushing forward with a hearing and vote this week.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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