Blindsided by an accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, conservative groups still pushing for his confirmation had a message Monday: Let’s hear from the accuser.
“Obviously Ms. Ford’s allegations are serious and should be heard,” said Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List, which has been organizing in states with key 2018 contests to push Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “Judge Kavanaugh should also have an opportunity to respond. This should be done as quickly as possible so that the vote can continue without delay.”
Still, she said, “We have no reason to change our support for Judge Kavanaugh.”
On Sunday, the Washington Post published an interview with a California-based professor who went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a party in high school. The professor, Christine Blasey Ford, had previously raised this concern privately to California lawmakers, but after details of the allegation began to leak out—and Kavanaugh’s allies dismissed the claims as baseless and anonymous—she came forward to share her perspective.
The development has thrown the trajectory of his confirmation into doubt, two weeks before the next Supreme Court session and 50 days before Election Day. The allegation from Ford escalates an already-contentious confirmation process that has included heated hearings, drama over Democratic efforts to release previously confidential documents and controversy over Kavanaugh’s views on abortion and birth control.
Ford is willing to testify in the Senate, her lawyer said Monday. Kavanaugh said in his own statement that he is “willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
“This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored,” Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, said on Fox News on Monday, setting the tone for other conservatives who indicated openness to hearing from Ford.
Conway added that Kavanaugh “is a man of character and integrity” and “it should not unduly delay the vote on Judge Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh’s backers—who say they are suspicious of the timing surrounding the surfacing of the allegation—want to confirm the judge by the time the Supreme Court opens for its October session, ahead of Election Day. In interviews Monday, several of them said Ford should be allowed to speak, but urged that she do so as quickly as possible so that the confirmation process could move forward, a sign that they remain strongly in Kavanaugh’s corner.
“I don’t see any reason to delay this process,” said Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a socially conservative organization. “We now have an allegation, unsubstantiated, 36 years old, but we have a name associated with it now. If this is not a delay tactic, if this is genuine, then let’s go ahead and hear from the accuser, let’s hear the judge’s response. If there’s any additional witnesses that need to be talked to, either by the FBI or committee staff, we can do that.”
“We think all of that can occur, and it can do so without unduly delaying the Senate advising and consenting to this nomination,” he added, saying that he deferred to the GOP leadership of the Judiciary Committee on the best way to proceed. “We continue to believe that can and should happen before the October session of the Supreme Court begins.”
A vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee has been slated for Thursday, though several Republican senators have now said that the committee should hear from Ford. All 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have signed a letter asking for a delay on the vote.
“She should have a platform to discuss the issues,” said Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, another prominent socially conservative organization. But, he added, “Everyone should be able to bring forth any issues, but I don’t think it should be allowed to derail the process that’s in place.”