In an 11th-hour letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, the American Bar Association called on senators to delay a committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the FBI can complete an investigation into claims he sexually assaulted women in high school and college.
CNN first reported the letter, which followed a day of testimony from Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, California professor Christine Blasey Ford. In a soft but certain tone, Ford told the committee she is “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth as he sexually attacked her at a high school pool party in 1982.
Testifying in the afternoon, Kavanaugh vociferously denied that he has ever sexually assaulted anyone.
Still, the ABA wants the Judiciary panel to wait to take a confirmation vote until the FBI probes the claims.
“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,” Robert Carlson, the ABA’s president, wrote in a letter to Chairman Charles E. Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” 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’s a marked reversal in tone from earlier this month, when officials at the ABA told the Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh received the highest possible marks in an assessment of his qualifications for the job, including keeping “an open mind.”
Kavanaugh even mentioned the ABA’s high grade of him in his testimony Thursday.
“For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the D.C. Circuit has praised my judicial temperament,” Kavanaugh said at the witness table Thursday. “That’s why I have the unanimous, well qualified rating from the American Bar Association.”
Carlson urged the Senate to remain “an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics,” adding that a “thorough FBI investigation will demonstrate its commitment to a Supreme Court that is above reproach,” CNN reported.
Grassley has scheduled a committee vote for Friday. Republicans plan to move Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor this weekend for a final vote.
Watch: Huge Crowds, Long Lines, Tight Security on Ford, Kavanaugh Hearing Day