Blumenthal, Murphy Vote ‘No’ As Kavanaugh Nomination Advances

By Christopher Keating Contact Reporter ckeating@courant.com

Originally seen on Hartford Courant

Over strong objections from Connecticut Democrats Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, the Senate voted 51-49 Friday to move Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination forward, scheduling a final vote for Saturday.

Kavanaugh is expected to receive approval after a long and divisive confirmation process that included multiple allegations of sexual misconduct at a time when supporters and detractors say he could provide the crucial fifth vote on the divided, nine-member court.

When Kavanaugh appeared on the list of nominee finalists and before he was nominated in July, Blumenthal and Murphy both spoke against him, saying his views were outside the mainstream of judicial thought. They were among the first senators to publicly say that they would vote “no.’’

On a dramatic day of emotional speeches, Blumenthal was among the final lawmakers to vote when he walked into the quiet Senate chamber at 10:48 a.m. Friday as virtually all senators were seated and awaiting the results.

Blumenthal stood later on the Senate floor and said he supports the women who made allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh when he was in high school and college. Republicans countered that none of the allegations were corroborated by the FBI or Senate investigators.

“I believe Dr. [Christine] Blasey Ford because she was credible and powerful as a witness before us,’’ Blumenthal said. “I believe Deborah Ramirez.’’

He added that Kavanaugh “revealed his true character’’ and “pulled back the mask on the judge’’ during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week when he aggressively denied the allegations against him.

“That’s the real Brett Kavanaugh,’’ Blumenthal said, describing him as “an angry and bitter partisan.’’

“I’m upset,’’ Murphy tweeted soon after walking off the Senate floor Friday. “I know you are too. But the silver lining is there is an election in less than 5 weeks where [voters] can CHANGE ALL THIS.’’

Murphy’s opponent in the November election, Republican Matthew Corey, came to the state Capitol press room in Hartford to support Kavanaugh and watch the vote on television.

Corey, a small business owner who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. John Larson in the past, predicted that Kavanaugh will be successful on the high court in the coming years.

“I think he’s going to be a good judge,’’ Corey said. “He’s going to uphold the Constitution.’’

Although he was pleased that Kavanaugh was moving forward, Corey said the nomination process was ugly. He said it could get worse if the Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November and then try to impeach either Kavanaugh or President Donald Trump.

“This is no way to run a country,’’ Corey said. “This is no way for good people to step forward who want to serve our country. It’s just wrong. Look at the divisiveness they’re creating.’’

The Kavanaugh nomination continued spilling over into the Connecticut governor’s race Friday. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont said he strongly supports Blumenthal and Murphy, his fellow Democrats.

“Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to serve a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court, and today’s vote to advance his nomination is yet another unfortunate chapter in President Trump’s effort to upend our nation’s highest and most powerful court — endangering women’s rights and health care for all Americans,’’ Lamont said. “Brett Kavanaugh is another stark reminder that every choice voters make at the polls has consequences.’’

Republican Bob Stefanowski, who said during a debate that he would take “a pass’’ on the issue because it is a federal matter, responded that Lamont is trying to change the topic for voters.

“Ned Lamont will continue to do everything in his power to make this election about issues in Washington to distract voters from the fact that there is no substantive difference between him and Gov. [Dannel P.] Malloy on policy,’’ Stefanowski said. “The next governor will be charged with fixing the damage that Dan Malloy’s policies have done to our state. You can count on me to focus on solving Connecticut’s issues, while Ned Lamont will continue his attempts to distract from his plans to further devastate the middle class with more tax increases and tolls.”

Independent gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel and his running mate, Newtown attorney Monte Frank, both said at the Capitol press room Friday that they would have voted “no’’ on Kavanaugh if they had been in Washington.

“This is being forced through on pure politics,’’ said Griebel, a longtime Republican-turned-independent. “It’s undermining confidence by turning the Supreme Court into such a political football. This is not the way government needs to be run for the people of the country.’’

As the former president of the Connecticut Bar Association, Frank said his biggest concern was Kavanaugh’s highly emotional testimony last week in which he said that the attacks on him were due in part to revenge for Democrats Bill and Hillary Clinton because Kavanaugh was a member of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s team.

“If he were to be on the bench and act the way that he did in the hearing — toward litigants, toward witnesses — that, to me, would change the dynamic of the Supreme Court and move it in a direction that is just not appropriate,’’ Frank said. “He lost me on his judicial temperament. The way he acted in the hearing was not in a manner that is appropriate for judges at any level.’’

Frank added, “As a father of two girls, one in college and one in high school, I am really concerned about the chilling effect that it’s going to have on women and their willingness to come forward in the future.’’

Malloy, the former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said the bitter battle is not over.

“While the results of this procedural vote are disappointing, we are not done fighting against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,’’ Malloy said in a written statement. “We have 30 hours to make the case that a man facing credible accusations of sexual assault is unfit for the Supreme Court of the United States, that he lacks the temperament to serve as an impartial jurist, and that he has shown an open hostility to many of the rights and liberties Connecticut residents hold dear. There is still time to make a difference, and I continue to stand with Senators Blumenthal and Murphy in this fight.”

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