Pa. senators support delay of Brett Kavanaugh vote |

Pa. senators support delay of Brett Kavanaugh vote

Sen. Bob Casey
Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Penn., listens to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on tariffs, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 in Washington.

Both of Pennsylvania’s senators have supported delaying a committee vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until after the committee holds hearings on allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in high school.

The Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a vote it had scheduled Thursday on Kavanaugh’s nomination, scheduling public testimony from Kavanaugh and his accuser for Monday.

The Washington Post reported allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, that Kavanugh had groped her and covered her mouth with his hand at a house party in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has called the allegation “completely false.”

“It is appropriate for Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford to both appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, said in a statement issued Monday night. “I will be following the testimony closely and will consider it in the context of all the information that has been presented about Judge Kavanaugh and his record.”

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, had called for a delay of the vote.

“Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has bravely come forward and deserves to be heard,” Casey said in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday. “What she describes in her interview is a violent sexual assault, which should be disqualifying for a nominee to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

Neither senator is on the committee but both will vote on the nominee as part of the confirmation process, which requires 51 votes to appoint a nominee to the court.

Toomey supported Kavanaugh after meeting with him before the assault allegation emerged. Casey announced his opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee before Trump announced who it would be, saying he objected to the process by which Trump selected his potential nominees.

Monday’s scheduled hearing could be similar to the 1991 Judiciary Committee hearings of nominee Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, a University of Oklahoma law professor at the time. Hill said Thomas had harassed her when she worked for him in a previous job. Thomas, a George H.W. Bush appointee, won confirmation in a 52 to 48 vote.

The assault allegation emerged after confirmation hearings in which Kavanaugh faced questions over his conservative positions on abortion, gun rights and executive power, including his position on what legal liability President Trump could face in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The high-profile fight over Kavanaugh’s conservatism may recall the contentious hearings over President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 nomination of Robert Bork, the former solicitor general who fired the Watergate special prosecutor on Richard Nixon’s orders.

The Senate voted against confirming Bork, who died in 2012, after dramatic public campaigns by liberals to oppose him. The groups targeted Bork’s critique of the Civil Rights Act and his arguments against a Supreme Court decision allowing married couples to use contraceptives.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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