During Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh repeatedly cited his high rating from the American Bar Association (ABA), which said in a review of his qualifications that Kavanaugh “enjoys an excellent reputation for integrity and is a person of outstanding character.”
However, the association is concerned enough about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault accusation against Kavanaugh, which she also aired Thursday, to have strongly urged an FBI investigation before the confirmation process can continue.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” ABA president Robert Carlson wrote to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat.
Carlson said Supreme Court confirmations were too important to be rushed. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court,” he wrote.
The Democrats have all been calling for an FBI investigation, in order to properly question people who were at or near the scene of the alleged assault 36 years ago—especially Mark Judge, who Ford said was Kavanaugh’s accomplice, but who denied Ford’s claims in a sworn statement.
However, the Republicans have characterized the demand as a stalling tactic, designed to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation before midterm elections in which Democrats might plausibly retake the Senate.
The ABA isn’t the only notable organization to do a U-turn on Kavanaugh in the last day. The editors of the Jesuit journal America wrote after Ford’s emotional testimony that President Trump should withdraw his nomination of Kavanaugh—who was educated by Jesuits.
“The editors of this review have no special insight into who is telling the truth. If Dr. Blasey’s allegation is true, the assault and Judge Kavanaugh’s denial of it mean that he should not be seated on the U.S. Supreme Court. But even if the credibility of the allegation has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt and even if further investigation is warranted to determine its validity or clear Judge Kavanaugh’s name, we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country,” they wrote. “While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn.”