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Human Rights Watch Opposes Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court

WASHINGTON - Re: Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court

Dear Senator,

We urge you to vote no on appointing Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.

Human Rights Watch has previously raised serious concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, noting that his judicial record suggests his presence could tip the court’s balance in a way that could erode protections for a range of fundamental human rights.[1]

This is the first time Human Rights Watch has opposed the appointment of a US Supreme Court justice. We have taken this unprecedented step for the following reasons. Credible concerns, based in part on the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been raised about whether Judge Kavanaugh committed at least one sexual assault in 1982, and allegations continue to circulate that he may have committed other sexual misconduct.[2]

Rather than engage meaningfully with Senators’ questions on those matters, Judge Kavanaugh sought to dismiss the concerns out of hand, which signaled a lack of understanding of the importance of a fair airing of the alleged harm suffered and of respect for the human dignity of alleged victims. Judge Kavanaugh demonstrated little understanding that inquiries into whether a US Supreme Court nominee engaged in sexual assault is a matter to which senators and witnesses must give their serious attention—both for the future of the court and for the message the process sends about the basic rights of millions of survivors of sexual assault and to future victims.

During his testimony Judge Kavanaugh also made several apparently false statements about material matters—including asserting that he was of legal drinking age when the sexual assault is alleged to have occurred;[3] apparently mischaracterizing his drinking behavior throughout his youth, including during the years when Dr. Blasey Ford’s and other alleged incidents are said to have occurred;[4] and asserting that several individuals Dr. Blasey Ford said were present at the party where her assault occurred denied that the assault happened.[5] These apparently false statements give rise to larger concerns about his veracity under oath.

Finally, while it was important and laudable that,[6] after leadership provided by key members, the Senate committee called for an FBI investigation, we are concerned that investigators did not speak with either the alleged perpetrator or victim, and reportedly did not speak to multiple individuals who have reported publicly that they had knowledge relevant to the allegations against and veracity of the testimony provided by Judge Kavanaugh.[7]

Some supporters of Judge Kavanaugh seem to believe he should be confirmed unless it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he engaged in sexual assault or perjury. Serving on high court is not an entitlement, however. There remain serious reasons to believe the nominee committed a sexual assault, failed to evidence an understanding of the importance of a full airing of the alleged harm suffered, and was untruthful under oath. Human Rights Watch urges senators to vote “no” on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Sincerely,

Nicole Austin-Hillery
Executive Director, US Program
Human Rights Watch

Kenneth Roth
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

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Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

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