(Reuters) - The American Bar Association has called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh so the FBI can investigate the sexual assault accusations against him.
ABA President Robert Carlson requested the delay in a letter sent to the committee on Thursday evening, the group said in a statement on Friday, after a day of testimony by university professor Christine Blasey Ford who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago. Kavanaugh denied the accusations.
“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,” Carlson wrote to Chairman Charles Grassley and ranking committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the letter, reported earlier by The Washington Post.
The ABA had given Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge, its highest ranking and backed his nomination at a separate hearing earlier this month.
Kavanaugh, nominated by Republican President Donald Trump, said on Thursday he was the victim of “grotesque and obvious character assassination” orchestrated by Senate Democrats.
The Judiciary Committee, on which Republicans have an 11-10 majority, was to meet on Friday morning and several senators said they expected the panel to vote then. The full Senate, controlled 51-49 by Trump’s fellow Republicans, could vote within days.
Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump and his confirmation would cement conservative control of the Supreme Court with disputes over abortion rights, immigration, gay rights, voting rights and transgender troops possibly heading to the justices soon.
Ford’s allegation emerged last week and has been followed by accusations from other women. Some Democrats have called on Kavanaugh to withdraw and have said an FBI investigation is needed before any Senate confirmation vote.
“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 an 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,” he added.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Susan Heavey; Editing by Peter Graff and Jeffrey Benkoe