Democratic senators urge voters to focus Kavanaugh anger on election

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two Democratic senators on Sunday said voters angry that Republicans confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite allegations of sexual misconduct should focus on next month’s congressional elections instead of seeking to impeach the new justice.

Some Democrats in the House of Representatives have indicated Kavanaugh could face investigations or even potential impeachment if they win majorities in the House and possibly the Senate. But Senators Chris Coons and Mazie Hirono distanced themselves from those demands, saying they are concentrating on the Nov. 7 congressional elections.

“I think that’s premature,” Coons said of impeachment talk on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Frankly we are just less than a month away from an election. Folks who feel very strongly one way or other about the issues in front of us should get out and vote and participate.”

Kavanaugh was sworn in late on Saturday amid protests at the court after he was narrowly confirmed in a 50-48 Senate vote but with questions raised from Democrats and liberal groups as to whether he will be a partisan justice.

Democrats are hopeful of winning control of the House but the Senate is a long shot. Republicans say that anger on the right at the way Democrats treated Kavanaugh may have energized their voters as well.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the public protests against Kavanaugh were the work of “an angry left-wing mob” and has urged his supporters to vote in November.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that “nothing unifies Republicans like a court fight.”

With both parties focusing on the confirmation battle, it is unclear who will capitalize on it most effectively in the elections.

Hirono, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” said, “I’m focused like a laser beam on the elections” when asked about impeachment.

“I’m very focused on the here and now, which is that all these angry women, mainly, out there who saw what was going on and how the Senate was not able to deal with the entire issue of sexual assault,” she said.

Noting that only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached, Coons said the Senate needed to show leadership and seek to heal the country.

“I think talking about it at this point isn’t necessarily healing us and moving us forward,” he said.

Samuel Chase in 1804 was the only justice to be impeached by the House. He was acquitted by the Senate the following year.

Kavanaugh fought back against the accusations with a blistering partisan attack at a Sept. 27 Senate hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser, said on ABC’s “This Week” that the focus should turn from Kavanaugh’s combative testimony and toward his 12 years as a respected appeals court judge in Washington.

“The Supreme Court, thank God, is a sacrosanct institution that can withstand much,” Conway said.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation means the nine-justice court now has a solid 5-4 conservative majority that is likely to move the court further to the right as it rules on contentious issues such as abortion, immigration, transgender rights, industry regulation and presidential powers.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Bill Trott)

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