Just before midnight eastern time last night, it was reported that the American Bar Association (ABA) sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein (Calif). In this letter the top lawyer group in the country argued that it was time for the FBI to step in to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
According to the ABA the FBI is needed to help the Senate figure out if Kavanaugh and Ford are telling the truth. They are calling on the Judiciary Committee to delay consideration of President Donald Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee until an FBI investigation is completed.
The sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh have created a national firestorm and a controversy that will not blow over soon. The conservative judge’s confirmation is now in doubt, and to many people there is a cloud over the process that can only be lifted with more investigation into the facts.
In a strongly worded letter, the ABA told Grassley and Feinstein it is making the highly unusual request “because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law.”
The ABA is technically bipartisan but has a reputation for being conservative. In this case, however, it is siding with concerns of Senate Democrats since Christine Ford’s sexual assault allegations became public.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate‘s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in the letter sent to Grassley and Feinstein.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” Carlson wrote. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”
The letter is unlikely to sway Republicans who have already decided in favor of Kavanaugh. However, the opinion of the ABA and its 400,000 lawyer members does carry weight outside the Republican Party. It is one more indication that rushing forward with Kavanaugh‘s confirmation is a bad idea politically, and a bad idea for the country.
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a Trump supporter, also called for an FBI probe in a Fox News opinion piece, writing:
“Maybe we can get closer to the truth, although that is not certain. But right now there are too many unanswered question[s] to bring the confirmation of Kavanaugh” to “a vote of the Judiciary Committee as scheduled on Friday, much less to a vote of the full Senate.”
“It is possible that one of them is deliberately lying. Right now, there is no way of knowing for certain, which is why the FBI needs to talk to the judge’s accusers and others.”