Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was secured by a conservative legal movement that takes a very particular form. It is strongly aligned with pro-life groups. Many of its leaders are Catholic. And, contrary to common stereotypes on the left, a significant number of its architects are women.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony on Thursday from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of three women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, the movement that put Kavanaugh in place is facing its own series of tests: how it treats alleged victims of abuse, how reflexively it aligns with Donald Trump’s administration, and whether it’s more committed to securing the truth or securing a win for the Republican Party. Within the movement, key leaders say Ford’s allegations and others that have followed are either a smear or a mistake. They believe Kavanaugh’s fervent denials and remain committed to moving his nomination forward. Outside of Washington, conservative women and pro-lifers are closely watching the leaders who have come to represent them, wondering whether their priority is politics or justice.
In mid-September, Ford detailed her claims against Kavanaugh in an article in The Washington Post: When he was 17 and she was 15, Kavanaugh allegedly trapped her in a bedroom at an alcohol-drenched party in the D.C. suburbs, groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit, and covered her mouth when she tried to scream. Initially, conservative leaders reacted cautiously to the claims, which Ford had also submitted to Democratic legislators in a letter. Kellyanne Conway, who comes out of a D.C. advocacy world that’s closely aligned with the conservative legal movement, told reporters that Ford “should not be insulted. She should not be ignored. She should testify under oath, and she should do it on Capitol Hill.”