Kavanaugh sexual assault ‘showdown’ set for public hearing

A public meeting of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled for September 24, during which committee members will hear in-person testimony from Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University psychology professor who has accused Kavanaugh of physical and sexual assault. Ford, 51, has said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in Maryland while both were high school students in 1982 (CBS News).

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The nationally televised hearings will be “a blockbuster event that could decide Kavanaugh’s fate.” (CNN)

“Supreme Court showdown set for Kavanaugh,” reported Fox News.

Ford made her allegation in a July letter to California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee (The Los Angeles Times). Her story was brought to wide public attention in an interview published on September 16 by The Washington Post.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told the newspaper. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” Kavanaugh said in a statement released by the White House. “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone.”

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To many, the accusation and scheduled hearing are a surreal replay of the 1991 Clarence ThomasAnita Hill hearings. Hill, a university professor, accused Thomas, then a Supreme Court nominee, of sexual harassment. The lengthy and contentious Senate committee hearings on that matter transfixed American television viewers and sharply divided public opinion. Although many believed Hill’s accusations were credible, Thomas’ nomination was eventually approved by the Senate. Thomas continues to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.

More reporting on the Kavanaugh-Ford story

• What are the details of Ford’s accusation?

• How has Kavanaugh supported his denial?

• How does the story change the Supreme Court nomination process?

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