A Senate hearing will tentatively take place Thursday to examine professor Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — and it could be pivotal for how Kavanaugh’s Senate vote will play out.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said in an interview on Sunday’s This Week on ABC that some Republicans have said they will make their final determination on Kavanaugh based on the upcoming hearing. The hearing will center on Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh forced himself on her in an “attempted rape” at a party in high school.
Support for Kavanaugh’s nomination in the Senate has fallen largely on party lines, with his confirmation ultimately in the hands of a small number of swing-vote senators.
“Members of the committee on both sides want to be fair [to both Kavanaugh and Ford], at least I hope they do,” Durbin said Sunday. “I have Republican senators who have reached out to Democratic senators and assured them that they are looking to this as kind of a determination to how their final vote will be cast.”
“It certainly appears there’s a lot of evidence that both sides have already made up their mind,” host George Stephanopoulous countered.
“I don’t think that’s true, I really don’t,” Durbin said. “Just remember, this Senate Judiciary Committee, the composition is 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats. If one Republican senator should decide that Dr. Ford’s allegations, assertions are true and that they are serious, it could make a big difference in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.”
Whether some Republicans will flip their votes on Kavanaugh remains to be seen; the two considered to be swing votes on Kavanaugh, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, are still publicly undecided on his nomination. With Republicans holding a 51-49 majority in the Senate, all Democrats and two Republican senators would need to oppose Kavanaugh for his nomination to fail.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Republican Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham made it clear that the hearing would not change his mind, telling host Chris Wallace that while he would “listen to Dr. Ford, compare it to everything in the record and make a decision,” he won’t vote against Kavanaugh based on Ford’s testimony.
“You can’t bring it in a criminal court, you would never sue civilly, you couldn’t even get a warrant,” Graham said Sunday. “What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation? I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen.”
“Unless there’s something more, no I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this, But she should come forward, she should have her say, she will be respectfully treated.“
Should any Republicans decide to oppose Kavanaugh, they will seemingly be siding with the American public. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday found that 38% of respondents opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination, marking the first time since the poll began in 2005 that more Americans opposed a Supreme Court nomination than supported it.
Though Kavanaugh has found support in the wake of Ford’s allegations from some Republican lawmakers and other allies, the allegations have resulted in an outpouring of support for Ford from activist organizations, sexual assault survivors and other women and supporters. Three 15-year-old girls from Idaho penned an open letter to Ford on Change.org urging her to testify about her experience, which has so far garnered over 35,000 signatures.
“Now is a courageous time and a brave time, too, to finally let your voice be heard,” the letter reads. “Telling your truth will get us one step closer to the world we want to live into; one where 17-year-old boys are taught that it is not OK to exploit girls and that 15-year-old girls know their bodies are their own.”