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‘Senators Should Pay Attention.’ Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Speaks Out Against Brett Kavanaugh

October 4, 2018, 8:52 PM UTC

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior during the Senate hearing over allegations of sexual assault made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford should disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court.

“The Senators should pay attention to this,” Stevens said, according to Lulu Ramadan, a reporter for The Palm Beach Post who was at the event in Boca Raton, Fla., where the longtime Republican spoke.

Stevens initially praised Kavanaugh’s legal acumen, but changed his mind after hearing President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee at last week’s Senate hearings. “I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability,” said Stevens, according to the Post. “I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”

A retired justice speaking out against the confirmation of a nominee is extremely rare—if it has ever happened at all—but that did not keep Stevens from sharing his opinion about the events surrounding the nation’s high court. According to Ramadan, the event’s moderator Frank Cerabino asked Stevens why his decisions leaned liberal. The retired justice, now 98, reportedly responded, “Well, I’ve never really been a political person.”

Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, Stevens wasn’t nearly as controversial a choice as Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh, who has become a lightning rod for controversies including his alleged sexually abusive behavior, his temperament, and his candor.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court on Friday morning, followed by a final vote as soon as Saturday.