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October 1, 2018

Senate delays vote on Kavanaugh's nomination to allow FBI investigation

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    The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday voted 11 to 10 along party lines to advance Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) requested the Senate delay a final vote for one week to allow the FBI to investigate sexual assault allegations, the Washington Post reports.

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    President Trump in July nominated Kavanaugh, who currently serves on the D.C. Circuit Court, to serve as the next associate justice on the Supreme Court following Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement. According to Inside Health Policy, Kavanaugh if confirmed is expected to be the deciding vote in many future cases, such as health care.

    However, late last month, Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor of clinical psychology, publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while the two were teenagers. Ford alleged that Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her while they were at a get together at a house in Montgomery County, Maryland, tried to remove her clothing, and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

    Kavanaugh has "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegations against him, saying he "did not do this back in high school or at any time."

    At least two other women have come forward with additional sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, which he has also denied, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Senate committee advances nomination

    Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and on Friday, Democrats on the committee urged Republicans to delay the committee's vote until after the FBI has investigated the allegations.

    After a meeting with Democrats that delayed the committee's initial vote, Flake said he would cast the deciding vote to advance Kavanaugh's nomination on the condition that the full Senate vote be delayed to allow the FBI to conduct a limited, one-week investigation into the allegations. 

    "I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation limited in time and scope [on] the current allegations that are there," Flake said.

    President Trump, who has steadfastly supported Kavanaugh, on Friday instructed FBI to start such a probe.

    FBI investigation

    According to Vox, FBI's investigation will be limited to the "credible" allegations against Kavanaugh, including Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. Vox reports the probe could also include allegations from Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh during his time at Yale College drunkenly exposed himself to her and thrust his genitals in her face without consent.

    The Supreme Court's 2018-2019 term begins Monday and, without a new justice, the high court will proceed with eight justices. Any case that results in a split 4-4 vote could be held and reargued when a ninth justice is confirmed (Min Kim, et al., Washington Post, 9/28; Peterson et al., Wall Street Journal, 9/28; Golshan, Vox, 9/28; Pelley, CBS, 9/30; Shear et al., New York Times, 9/28; Cohen/Lotven, Inside Health Policy, 9/28).

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