Since his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Trump in July, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has been a leading figure in the news.
At first, he faced intense scrutiny over his qualifications, his work in President George W. Bush’s administration and his politics. But the focus has shifted in recent weeks, as several women publicly accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault or misconduct.
Judge Kavanaugh, who has denied the accusations, and the first woman to come forward with one, Christine Blasey Ford, are expected to testify on Thursday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Here’s a guide to the latest coverage from The Times.
Three women have come forward so far with allegations about Judge Kavanaugh, the latest as recently as Wednesday.
First, Dr. Blasey, a research psychologist, accused him of pinning her down at a high school party, trying to take off her clothing and covering her mouth to keep her from screaming at a high school party. (Read our profile of her.)
On Sunday, The New Yorker reported that Deborah Ramirez, who works for the Boulder County housing department in Colorado and sits on the board of a domestic violence organization, said that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken college party. (Here’s our profile of her.)
On Wednesday, Julie Swetnick, who has held a variety of public- and private-sector jobs over the years, including working for federal government agencies, said that he was “present” when she was raped at a high school party.
Although he admitted on Wednesday to having some regrets about his choices in high school, Judge Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the allegations.
Republicans were quick to suggest that the claims were part of a smear campaign, with President Trump accusing Democrats of being “con artists.” Meanwhile, Judge Kavanaugh took the extraordinary measure on Monday of defending himself in a Fox News interview, the first time in memory that a Supreme Court nominee sat for a televised interview before a confirmation vote.
Still, conservatives are divided over how to proceed. The nomination rests on the votes of a few Senate Republicans — one of them, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has warned not to prejudge the allegations.
Meanwhile, a group of Mormon women called for a pause in the confirmation process, applying pressure to the four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (its adherents lean heavily Republican).
The sensitivity of the situation, particularly in the #MeToo era, is not lost on the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, all of them white men. They have retained a female prosecutor to help question one of the accusers, Dr. Blasey, at a Thursday hearing. Here’s what we know about that prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell.
The support for the women
The allegations have also activated liberals, who held rallies and participated in walkouts on Monday and are planning another day of action on Thursday. Survivors of abuse have also rallied around a new hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport, to highlight the difficulties, fear, anger and shame that so often surround sexual harassment and assault.
“With reference to Dr. Ford, the credibility is there for her. So I believe her,” said Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who has emerged as a leading Democratic defender of the women who have accused Judge Kavanaugh. (She is a member of the Judiciary Committee.) “I don’t think either one of these women have any reason to lie.”
The political stakes are very high, with some Democrats hoping that the derailment of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation could buy them time to win back the Senate in the November midterm elections, and, consequently, gain control over the confirmation of Mr. Trump’s next nominee.
Many have seen parallels between the accusations facing Judge Kavanaugh today and the ones from Anita Hill, who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual misconduct during his Supreme Court confirmation process more than a quarter-century ago. Read more about her testimony and key moments from Judge Thomas’s hearings, and listen to an episode from The Daily that revisits it. Ms. Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, has weighed in herself, writing in a New York Times Op-Ed that, this time around, the Senate Judiciary Committee can “do better.’