The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, following a day of dramatic testimony by the appellate judge and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault.
The 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the committee will decide whether to recommend Kavanaugh for approval by the entire Senate, which is expected to begin procedural votes Saturday.
Bar requests investigation
The American Bar Association late Thursday urged the Judiciary committee and the full Senate to delay the vote until the FBI has time to do a full background check on the claims made by Ford and other women.
We make this request because of the ABAs respect for the rule of law and due process under law, the ABA letter to committee leadership said. Each appointment to our nations highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.
Republicans count votes
It is not clear if the Republicans will have enough votes for their nominee after the impassioned testimony Thursday when Kavanaugh angrily denied a charge of sexually assaulting Ford at a party in 1982 when they were teenagers. Both told their stories to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a nearly nine-hour-long hearing.
Late Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee announced he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. While, he said, it took courage for Ford to testify, there was no evidence to corroborate her allegations.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he is still weighing his vote after hearing Ford and Kavanaugh testify.
Asked how he will vote, Flake said, Let me process it.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, also said she needs time to decide how she will vote. She is running for re-election in a state that voted heavily for President Donald Trump.
Sen. Doug Jones, a first-term Democrat from Alabama, said he would vote no on Kavanaughs bid for the Supreme Court. The Kavanaugh nomination process has been flawed from the beginning, he said, adding that Ford was credible and courageous.
I have never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever, Kavanaugh told the senators. I have never done this to her or to anyone.
He cried as he spoke of how the ordeal has wrecked his family. He presented the senators with what he said were handwritten calendars from 1982 showing his activities and whereabouts. He says they did not include the party. He said he welcomes whatever investigation the committee wants into the incident but would not directly answer whether he would seek an FBI inquiry.
Kavanaugh admitted a love for drinking beer, but he also pointed to what he says were his outstanding academic record and dedication to high school sports and church.
Hours earlier, Ford told the panel she was 100 percent certain it was a drunken Kavanaugh who pinned her down on a bed, groped her, tried to take off her clothes, and put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams for help.
Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor chosen by Republican members of the committee to question Ford on their behalf, asked her about timelines and peripheral issues and did not challenge her basic account of sexual assault. But Fords account lacked firm corroboration of her claims by others at the party.
Later Thursday, Mark Judge, a Kavanaugh friend whom Ford identified as being present during the assault, issued a statement saying, Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school, but we have not spoken directly in several years. I do not recall the events described by Dr. Ford in her testimony. … I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.
WATCH: Kavanaugh Has Supporters, Opponents Among Women
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Kavanaugh and blamed Democrats for not disclosing the accusations earlier.
As part of Judge Kavanaughs nomination to the Supreme Court, the FBI conducted its sixth full field background investigation of Judge Kavanaugh since 1993, 25 years ago. Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports … was there a whiff of any issue, any issue at all related to anyway inappropriate sexual behavior.
But Democrats did not buy Kavanaughs self-portrayal of an angelic choir boy. Senator Patrick Leahy pointed to Kavanaughs high school yearbook page and its jokes about heavy drinking and sex.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham lost his temper during his time to question Kavanaugh. He accused Democrats of an unethical sham and warning Republicans that if they vote not to confirm Kavanaugh, they would legitimize the most despicable thing Ive ever seen in my time in politics.
Trump stands by his man
President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. He tweeted that the judge showed Americans exactly why he was chosen.Trumps tweet did not mention Ford.
Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, Ilya Shapiro, says it is unclear if anyone came out ahead after Thursdays testimony.
Were at a dangerous point because if we have no more evidence and Kavanaughs rejected, that sets the precedent that accusations are enough to derail … and if hes approved, then still there will be people who think that hes a sexual assaulter or rapist and there he is sitting at the Supreme Court.
Jesuit magazine withdraws Kavanaugh support
In another development Thursday, America Magazine, an influential Jesuit publication, withdrew its support for Kavanaughs nomination. Georgetown Prep, Kavanaughs high school, is a Jesuit institution.
In an editorial America Magazine said, … we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country. It added that, Somewhere in the distant past, … Senate confirmation hearings might have focused on evaluating a nominees judicial character or qualifications as a legal thinker. But that time is long past. … It now involves the symbolic meaning of his nomination and confirmation in the MeToo era. The hearings and the committees deliberations are now also a bellwether of the way the country treats women when their reports of harassment, assault and abuse threaten to derail the careers of powerful men.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, the court will have a clear 5−4 conservative majority, which could be solidified for a generation or longer.