Brett Kavanaugh cites abortion jurisprudence to push back

Image copyright EPA Image caption Sexual harassment in the workplace was thrown out last year in a major ruling by the Supreme Court Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh cited landmark Supreme Court decisions in his…

Brett Kavanaugh cites abortion jurisprudence to push back

Image copyright EPA Image caption Sexual harassment in the workplace was thrown out last year in a major ruling by the Supreme Court

Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh cited landmark Supreme Court decisions in his first argument over abortion limits before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The judge said that sexual harassment laws covering the workplace should not apply to abortion providers, amid efforts to curb abortion rights.

The comments were in reference to a 2011 case in which a supervisor was disciplined for harassment.

Ms Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her as a teenager in the 1980s.

Ms Ford, a college professor in California, has said the alleged incident happened at a party when the pair were in high school.

She claims the incident at a house party in suburban Maryland occurred when Mr Kavanaugh was 17.

He denies the allegation.

On Wednesday, Mr Kavanaugh told the Senate committee that he categorically and unequivocally denied the allegation.

The opening argument by Mr Kavanaugh

During Wednesday’s opening argument by Mr Kavanaugh, he said that the Supreme Court had ruled in its 1973 landmark Roe v Wade decision that “a woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability”.

It “would be a very dangerous precedent that you would be putting at risk, the precedent that’s been in place now for almost 40 years”, he told the committee in his opening statement.

However, he pointed to what he described as important cases in which the court had ruled that laws seeking to restrict abortion should not apply to abortion providers.

He cited two examples:

Key ruling against sex-selection abortion

Ruling that doctors who perform abortions at home without having patient consent

Ginsburg links election data to gender inequity

The senator later said Mr Kavanaugh had started his remarks by saying the relevant Supreme Court case was Roe v Wade.

Mr Kavanaugh’s clerk, Matthew Duvan, argued on his behalf.

When the Democrats picked up the reference to Roe v Wade, Chairman Chuck Grassley accused Democrats of playing “gotcha politics” and of trying to “change the subject”.

Speaking on Thursday, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the Kavanaugh hearing “shameful”.

“I can think of no circumstances under which a woman should have to have a hearing in front of the Senate concerning how to terminate her pregnancy and spend over 45 hours doing it,” she said, saying an investigation into Ms Ford should be done before she testified.

Ms Ford testified on Thursday. Afterwards, former Democratic senator Harry Reid said the investigation must be launched in a bipartisan way.

“For the good of the Senate and the country, let’s get it done,” he said in a tweet.

Reid also said his colleagues should recognise the scandal over the Kavanaugh hearing.

“Republicans must make sure they are doing everything possible to deal with the breaking news that has helped divide our country and derailed the confirmation process,” he said.

“There has to be a stop for this bizarre circus.”

Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein said Ms Ford “is receiving appropriate and courageous support” in the wake of the allegations and a “new story” about the alleged assault.

“Democrats will hold the Trump administration and Judge Kavanaugh accountable for their efforts to weaponise our judicial system to pursue retribution against Ms Ford,” she said.

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