The Senate GOP is trying to counter sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with a list of women he went to high school with who are prepared to defend his character.
In response to Thursday's news that California Senator Diane Feinstein had referred sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh to the FBI, her Republican colleague Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a letter fewer than 48 hours later, including the names of 65 women who insist Kavanaugh is a "good person."
"Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity," one woman wrote in the letter, according to Politico. "In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day."
The claims against Kavanaugh stem from a woman with whom he attended Georgetown Preparatory School. In her complaint, she says that, more than three decades ago, at a high school party, Kavanaugh held her down and attempted to force himself on her; Kavanaugh and another student colluded to turn up the music to drown out her protests, though she alleges that Kavanaugh also covered her mouth.
Kavanaugh denies the accusations.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation," Kavanaugh told The New Yorker on Thursday. "I did not do this back in high school or at any time."
For the women's groups who have raised hell over Kavanaugh's nomination, these latest developments are all the more reason to block the federal judge's confirmation to the Supreme Court bench.
"Sexual assault is a violent abuse of power and should disqualify anyone from serving on the highest court in the land," Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote in a statement sent to reporters on Friday. "Kavanaugh's record of undermining women's health and constitutional rights should already prevent his confirmation from moving forward. These serious allegations raise even more questions about what we don't know about Judge Kavanaugh."
"We support and believe women who have survived sexual harassment and assault, and believe their anonymity should always be protected," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue wrote in a different release emailed to reporters. "The charge of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh is disqualifying, and we call on him to immediately withdraw his nomination for the Supreme Court."
Despite their protests—and continued outcry from Senate Democrats over the whole of Kavanaugh's confirmation process—the Senate Judiciary Committee is still on track to vote on the Trump-appointed judge on September 20. Republicans hope to install Kavanaugh in time for the new Supreme Court term to begin in October.
That mean's the pressure is on for notorious swing voters, like Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins, the latter of whom is the target of a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for her hypothetical opponent should she cast a vote for Kavanaugh. With a slim 51-49 split in the Senate between Republicans and Democrats, their votes could decide Kavanaugh's fate.
“People in such a position of power cannot have these stains in their past, which show they will abuse their power when given the chance," Hogue wrote. "Put simply, Kavanaugh cannot be appointed to the Supreme Court.”