Sexual Assault Survivors in Congress Call for Delay on Kavanaugh Vote

Five Democratic lawmakers, each survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, are calling for a delay in the Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Reps. Alma Adams of North Carolina, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, Jackie Speier of California and Debbie Dingell of Michigan penned a letter Thursday to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking for the vote on Kavanaugh to be postponed and calling for an investigation into the additional allegations made against him in recent days.

Three women have come forward with accusations of sexual assault or misconduct against the nominee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing Thursday to hear from Kavanaugh and the first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

“As victims of domestic and sexual assault, we write to express our deepest concerns regarding your actions and various statements on the serious allegations that have been raised concerning Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his possible elevation to the highest court in the country,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We further request fair and impartial consideration of Dr. Ford’s testimony, proper balancing of her story with Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony, and the postponement of any votes on Kavanaugh until all allegations have been properly investigated,” they continued.

Ford and Senate Democrats called for an FBI investigation into the allegations before holding a hearing, but opposition to FBI action from Trump and Republicans won out.

The five House members asked for a formal apology to Ford and the second Kavanaugh accuser, Deborah Ramirez, for what they called McConnell and Trump’s “disparaging and uninformed remarks.”

The Democratic lawmakers said the president’s comments on the allegations “appears to be more respect and consideration given to Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation and career, rather than to the welfare of the accusers.”

They also raised concern about a larger culture of sexual misconduct in the federal workplace, citing a study that found that 44 percent of female and 19 percent of male federal employees reported unwanted sexual attention in their respective places of employment.

Want insight more often? Get Roll Call in your inbox

The signatories cited a 2016 Roll Call survey that showed four in 10 women believed sexual harassment was a problem on Capitol Hill, and one in six said they had personally been victims. Sexual harassment has been under the microscope on Capitol Hill, and negotiations to overhaul the reporting and resolution process for employees have slowed in recent weeks.

“Those numbers may be low because of workplace power dynamics, which are exacerbated on Capitol Hill,” the Democrats wrote.

Speier made public last year her story of sexual assault while she was a staffer on Capitol Hill.

“The chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth,” the California Democrat said in a video last October. “So I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.