The Chicago-based American Bar Association, the largest national organization of lawyers and among the most influential, asked the Senate to put the brakes on confirming controversial Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh so the FBI can investigate sexual assault allegations.
After the ABA and others called for a pause in the process, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of 11 GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee, voted with his colleagues to move Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate — but asked for an FBI investigation and a week’s delay to the full Senate considering the nomination. Republican leaders and President Donald Trump acquiesced, postponing any vote, and Trump ordered a new investigation.
The bar association had previously called Kavanaugh “well qualified” for the Supreme Court after conducting an evaluation that lasted weeks. But allegations of sexual assault — including riveting testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, whose statements alleging an attack at the hands of the jurist while they were in high school were beamed around the world Thursday — made some of Kavanaugh’s ardent supporters step back. Kavanaugh, tapped by Trump for the open spot on the nation’s highest court, also testified, adamantly denying the charges.
In a letter dated Thursday and addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and ranking committee member Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, the bar association urged the Senate to delay a confirmation until “after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Ford and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
In the note to the Judiciary Committee, bar association President Robert Carlson wrote: “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. It must remain an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics.”
Earlier this month, the bar association’s Paul Moxley testified before the Judiciary Committee — responsible for vetting Supreme Court nominees — that Kavanaugh met “the highest standards of integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.”
Reached Friday, bar association representatives declined to elaborate.
“The letter speaks for itself,” spokesman Marc Davis said.
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