October 05, 2018

Hours Before Final Vote, Duckworth Implores Senate to Reject Kavanaugh


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) delivered a speech on the Senate floor tonight outlining why she will be voting no on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation tomorrow. Duckworth detailed Kavanaugh’s record of dishonesty in his confirmation hearings, the credible allegations of sexual assault against him from Dr. Ford and others as well as his extremely partisan comments. Video of the speech is available here.

“By refusing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, we can send the message that victims of sexual assault matter. That their voices will be heard. That seeking justice for these survivors is more important than the confirmation of any single individual,” said Duckworth. I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation—and on behalf of Dr. Ford and survivors everywhere, I’m begging each of my colleagues to do the same.”

A full copy of Duckworth’s remarks are below:

As I begin speaking tonight, we’re likely less than 24 hours away from handing a seat on the United States Supreme Court to a man credibly accused of sexual assault—a lifetime appointment that would give him immense power to determine the right of every American to access health care, start or grow a family, vote or even have access to what the founders called the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

From the beginning, this nomination process has been a sham. 

The confirmation hearing was rushed.

Bush- and Trump-era Republicans worked shoulder to shoulder to omit thousands of documents from the review process.

Questions about Kavanaugh’s seeming habit to perjure himself only grew by the day.

And that was all before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stood up and spoke out…

Before she took a deep breath and begin to relive the worst moment of her life, over and over again on the national stage…

…credibly accusing Brett Kavanaugh of pinning her down, covering her mouth and changing her life forever.

Now, even after she testified about the night she was nearly raped—even after she talked of the memories “indelibly etched” into her mind and her 100% certainty that it was Brett Kavanaugh that night—some on the other side of the aisle have prioritized partisan tribalism over justice…over truth… two of the pillars that supposedly define the Supreme Court.

How can the FBI investigation be considered anything but a GOP-led sham when Dr. Ford wasn’t even interviewed? When Kavanaugh himself wasn’t even questioned? Or the dozen-plus people Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez have said could help corroborate their stories?

Why the rush? What are the Republicans afraid of? If they’re so convinced their nominee isn’t a serial sexual assaulter, why have they done everything in their power to curb and hinder investigations into the incidents in question?

The Republicans who angrily claimed on TV yesterday that this nomination is taking too long—that Democrats are obstructing for the sake of obstructing—are literally the same Republicans who delayed the consideration of Merrick Garland’s nomination for 293 days simply because he was nominated by President Obama.

For the Chairman to claim this nomination has gone on longer than the, quote, “average” Supreme Court nomination ignores the reality that their nominee who has been credibly accused of multiple sexual assaults is being jammed through at lightning speed compared to another nomination he oversaw as Chairman—Merrick Garland.

To Leader McConnell, Chairman Grassley and my Republican colleagues, I warn you: history has its eyes on you.

And I beg you to slow down and consider the stakes of this debate.

Like Neil Gorsuch just a year ago, there are countless other conservative judges scattered throughout the Federal Judiciary that could be confirmed instead of Judge Kavanaugh.

Potential nominees with zero credible allegations of sexual assault… who are willing to release their records… who are capable of demonstrating the thoughtful, careful temperament that we should demand from any possible Supreme Court justice.

As a nominee, Kavanaugh brought to his confirmation hearings two things: his record and his character.

His record revealed that he would eagerly be the deciding vote in cases that would take away a woman's right to make her own health care decisions… tear away health care from millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions… and even empower this President to act as though he’s above the law.

Equally important, his character can be summed up in just a few words: Untruthful. Dishonest. Intemperate.

Unfit to Serve.

Anyone who watched the Judiciary Committee hearing last Thursday should have serious, if not disqualifying, doubts about Brett Kavanaugh.

He spewed out conspiracy theories about the Clintons… Went on partisan rants… Appearing belligerent and outraged that anyone would dare keep him from getting what he appears to feel entitled to.

He shouted over Senators, attacked and insulted them personally, even pledging to exact revenge on his political adversaries.

Only a man who’s never served in harm’s way would dare complain that tough questioning was equivalent to his enemies trying to “blow [him] up.”

Judge Kavanaugh, I’ve been on the receiving end of an RPG blast, so I can tell you that sitting in a fancy, air-conditioned hearing room for a few hours is nothing at all like being under attack and fearing for your life in the middle of a war zone.

And over and over again, he told what seemed to be bald-faced lies.

He lied about the meaning of his yearbook page... About whether or not he has had any possible memory loss or has ever become aggressive while drinking … About what he knew at age 53 and what he did at age 17...

Sadly, we shouldn’t even be surprised. Kavanaugh has a habit of appearing to lie under oath—

Over the years, he’s dissembled and been dishonest under oath on a number of issues, including his role developing the Bush Administration’s policies on torture.

This consistent dishonesty—this disregard, even distaste for the truth—should be disqualifying for any Supreme Court nominee.

But my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are turning a blind eye, seemingly not bothered one bit by his dishonestly, much less the credible allegations of assault against him.

You know, today is the one-year anniversary of The New Yorker’s Harvey Weinstein story that broke open the “Me Too” movement.

Now, exactly 365 days later, we in the Senate are faced with a choice. Do we believe the survivors who come forward to tell their stories?

Or would we rather take the easy route—dismissing their claims as misguided or “mixed up,” as one of my colleagues put it, ignoring their claims…ignoring their pain.

Well, I for one believe Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

Courage is the word that comes to mind when I think of these women.

They didn’t ask for this burden. They didn’t want this spotlight—or the death threats and fear that have come right along with it. But they’ve put country over self, and have spoken out anyway… knowing full well that some would vilify them for doing so.

Take a moment to imagine what they’ve gone through.

Imagine being a teenage girl...alone and scared...outnumbered and overpowered and terrified.

Imagine carrying that trauma with you every day for decades. Then having to relive it in front of the entire country. Being called a liar, having your life threatened, being victimized all over again in the process.

It now rests on the United States Senate to listen. We must set an example for the rest of the country and avoid repeating the sins of confirmations past. 

We must condemn efforts to shame survivors—even when, especially when, it’s the President himself doing the bullying…

By refusing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, we can send the message that victims of sexual assault matter. That their voices will be heard. That seeking justice for these survivors is more important than the confirmation of any single individual.

We can recognize the bravery it took for these women to speak out.

Doing so would make clear that—at least in the United States Senate if not in the White House—time is truly up for any judicial nominee credibly accused of sexual assault.

And doing so would at least begin to restore integrity to how the Senate carries out its Constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent.  

To any of my colleagues considering voting yes on this nominee: Please, take a few minutes to listen again to the opening words of Dr. Ford last Thursday.

Hear the pain in her words… The truth in her voice.

I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation—and on behalf of Dr. Ford and survivors everywhere, I’m begging each of my colleagues to do the same.