What Six Senators Said About Their Kavanaugh Votes

The senators from both parties,  including Democrat Kamala Harris, a likely 2020 presidential candidate, explained their positions on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The Capitol Dome (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

After a tight  procedural vote to move forward with Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, senators made lengthy floor speeches throughout the day Friday explaining whether they planned to vote for or against his confirmation on Saturday. Some of their comments focused on the public debate over Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. Others focused on Kavanaugh’s judicial record and the confirmation process writ large.

Below, a selection of their comments:

Democrat Kamala Harris of California Connects the #MeToo Movement to the History of Domestic Violence:

[Sexual assault] is an issue right now that is where the issue of domestic violence was about 30 years ago. There was a perception about domestic violence, that I hope we have gotten beyond, but there was a perception about domestic violence: oh, you know, what happens in the king’s castle is the king’s business. That's private business. That's not our business. But then we evolved as a society and we realized, no, if she's walking around with a black eye or a busted lip, that's everybody's business. She deserves to be safe and we must stand up for her. I believe this is an inflection moment on the issue of sexual assault, and I hope and I pray that this is a moment where everyone will agree—no one should silently suffer. Let’s talk about this…

Judge Kavanaugh has made it very clear to the American public that he is biased, that he is receiving information and perceives it through the lens of a partisan and through the lens of the person he has been his entire career, which is a partisan operative. And there were moments, perhaps, during his initial testimony, where he may have distracted us from that part of his history, where he talked, you know, in a calm voice about certain things. He certainly knows case law and talked about it. But when the issues got hot, when it became about fundamental issues, the veneer was stripped away, and Brett Kavanaugh showed us who he really is.

Republican John Cornyn of Texas Says the FBI Investigation Helped Kavanaugh’s Chances:

Now, I actually think in some ways our colleagues who called for a one-week delay have done us a favor, because every lead that could be followed has been followed and exhausted, and as the majority leader was saying earlier, in America, under our constitutional system where we don't presume that you're guilty and require you to prove your innocence, and where we believe in due process of law, I think the FBI investigation was a useful way to demonstrate to the American people that none of these allegations that have been made against Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct have been proven. It also, I think, gives us a chance to pivot from what has been a shameful and disgraceful confirmation process.

Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois Speaks Against Kavanaugh’s “Raw Partisanship”:

Judge Kavanaugh abandoned any veneer of neutrality last week before our committee. Out of one side of his mouth, he claimed that he bore no ill will toward Dr. Ford. then he called her allegations “a calculated, orchestrated political hit,” citing apparent “pent-up anger about President Trump in the 2016 election and revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” He even threatened the Democrats, and I quote, when he said “what goes around comes around.” In my 20 years on the Judiciary Committee, I have never heard anything like that or even close to that from a judicial nominee. It's hard to imagine how a nominee who has displayed such raw partisanship could then claim to serve as a neutral umpire in the Supreme Court ... At a time when our president plumbs the depth of bad behavior on a daily basis, we should not allow the highest court in our land to now sink to that same standard in their ranks.

Republican Marco Rubio of Florida Points to the National Reckoning Over Sexual Assault:

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there's clearly another factor that is driving much of the anger and passion around this nomination. And it has nothing to do with partisan politics or politics at all, for that matter. It is the fact, as I've mentioned already earlier, that sadly, far too often, particularly women who come forward with allegations of harassment, abuse, or assault are ignored, dismissed and even blamed. And the fact is that because of this, we have potentially millions of victims who have never come forward and who suffer in silence. And so I understand that for victims and for those who love them, for those who have survived this, to hear about these allegations brings back powerful and painful memories of what happened to them, of how they were ignored, of how they were not believed, of how they were blamed and how their abuser got away with it. What has happened to these survivors is an injustice. It's wrong. It's something that we as a nation must reckon with and we as a people must fix. But the solution to injustice is never injustice, and it would be unjust to turn this nomination into a proxy fight over the broader important issue of how we have treated victims of sexual assault in America.

Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii Says Kavanaugh Does Not Understand Indigenous Law:

Judge Kavanaugh, separately, in addition to working on this amicus brief, wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, “Are Hawaiians Indians?,” that made false and offensive arguments. In his op-ed, and amicus brief, Judge Kavanaugh relied on incorrect facts and misstatements, ignoring obvious truths that contradict his position. He relied on these incorrect facts in order to reach his political conclusion that native Hawaiians and, arguably, other indigenous communities who do not fit his limited view of tribal structure are not afforded any special protections by the Constitution. He called OHA’s voting structure into question under the 14th Amendment calling it, quote, “naked racial spoils system,” end quote. In describing the native Hawaiian community, he went out of his way to ignore their history. He cobbled together blatant falsehoods and called into question their status as an indigenous people. His op-ed argued that native Hawaiians were not entitled to the constitutional protections given to indigenous Americans because, as he put it, quote, “they don't have their own government, they don't have their own system of laws, they don't have their own elected leaders, they don't live on reservations or in territorial enclaves. They don’t even live together in Hawaii,” end quote. Judge Kavanaugh is saying that native groups in the US derive their rights from having been herded onto reservations and cheated out of their land. and that they surrender their rights when they move outside of these artificial official boundaries. It is not only factually wrong but deeply offensive.

Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina Expects Kavanaugh to Be an Independent Judge:

I firmly believe that Judge Kavanaugh is going to go to the bench, and I firmly believe, because of his independence, he's going to take some rulings that I'm not going to like, but he's going to do it for the right reasons. And what he's going to say is, “instead of treating us like a nine-member legislature, go do your job, Congress. Change the law if you want me to have a different opinion when it comes to the court.” We should be now, in that light, thinking about how we work together on a bipartisan basis to change things that we don't like. Not expect a nine-member legislature to do our job.