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Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh, then-nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Sept. 27, 2018. (Photo: Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images)

Progressives Call on House Democrats to Probe 'Sham Confirmation Process' for Brett Kavanaugh

"Senate Republicans made a mockery of their constitutional responsibility to provide 'advice and consent' on the president's nomination of Justice Kavanaugh."

Jessica Corbett

A coalition of 26 progressive groups on Thursday urged House Democrats to investigate the GOP-controlled Senate's "sham confirmation process" for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

"Many issues went unresolved during last year's confirmation process, when Senate Republicans jettisoned all procedural norms and abandoned any sense of fairness, and they must be investigated," the groups wrote in a letter (pdf) to members of the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Reform.

The letter summarized the groups' many concerns:

Serious questions remain about whether Justice Kavanaugh lied to the Senate; whether he sexually assaulted the women who credibly accused him of doing so; whether there are cases on which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned and from which he must be recused; whether he lied about his financial debt and how it was repaid; and whether he is ultimately fit to be a justice on the Supreme Court. ​The American people deserve answers to these questions and to know why the usual advice and consent process was so badly broken last year.

The Senate approved Kavanaugh's appointment by an historically narrow margin in early October of 2018. His confirmation followed three months of nationwide protests spurred by concerns about potential perjury and sexual assault as well as his judicial record and what his opinions could mean for the environment, healthcare, human rights, net neutrality, reproductive rights, and workers.

Since Kavanaugh joined the high court, his votes have further fueled progressives' worries about his lasting impact on the constitutionally protected right to have an abortion, policies to combat the global climate crisis, and efforts to hold President Donald Trump and members of his administration accountable to the American public.

"Senate Republicans made a mockery of their constitutional responsibility to provide 'advice and consent' on the president's nomination of Justice Kavanaugh, and the American people deserve to know how and why the process was such a sham."
—26 progressive groups

The letter explains in detail how "Senate Republicans manipulated the confirmation process for Justice Kavanaugh at every turn," including then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) failing to fight for detailed records from Kavanaugh's time working in the White House under former President George W. Bush.

Senate Democrats demanded the documents not only because it is standard for considering Supreme Court nominees, but also because of charges that Kavanaugh possibly lied to senators in 2006. Those alleged lies, which came during his confirmation hearing to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, were about his knowledge of and involvement in the Bush administration's post-9/11 torture tactics.

The letter also highlighted Senate Republicans' poor handling of sexual misconduct allegations, which culminated in Christine Blasey Ford's televised testimony that Kavanaugh assaulted her during high school and a "virtually meaningless" FBI investigation, the terms of which were dictated by the Trump White House.

"Given the seriousness of sexual assault, the allegations made against him and his responses to them deserve your committees' thorough investigation," the letter says. "Accordingly, we urge you to launch a full investigation into those allegations; into the coordinated responses by Republican Senators, the White House, Justice Kavanaugh, and his allies; and into the truthfulness of Justice Kavanaugh's testimony regarding them."

"Senate Republicans made a mockery of their constitutional responsibility to provide 'advice and consent' on the president's nomination of Justice Kavanaugh," the letter concludes, "and the American people deserve to know how and why the process was such a sham."

The letter comes as students at George Mason University are demanding that administrators cancel a contract for Kavanaugh to teach a study abroad program as a distinguished visiting professor at the university's Antonin Scalia Law School later this year.

"It was really disrespectful to survivors to have Kavanaugh and everything he represents to teach at a branch of our university," Sarah Kurian, a sophomore and a member of Mason For Survivors, told Jezebel earlier this week. "It just shows that we really haven't taken that many steps forward in caring about the issue of sexual assault."

Demand Justice, one of the groups behind the letter to members of Congress, is running digital ads on Facebook to encourage people with ties to the university to call on school officials to fire Kavanaugh.

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