September 22, 2018

Rich, Johnson still support Kavanaugh but want to hear from accuser

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Laura Paskus

The U.S. Supreme Court.

Following an allegation of sexual assault, the confirmation of U.S. Circuit Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh became more controversial.

Now some Democrats, including New Mexico’s two senators, want an investigation into what happened between Kavanaugh and college professor Christine Blasey Ford at a party in high school, where Ford alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her..

New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, issued a statement this week calling for an FBI investigation.

“The sexual assault allegation made against Judge Kavanaugh deserves a thorough, professional investigation by the FBI before proceeding with any vote on his nomination to the highest court in the land,” Heinrich said.

Heinrich is facing reelection this year and his two challengers both previously said they would vote to confirm Kavanaugh if given the chance. Those two candidates still support Kavanaugh, but also want to hear more from Ford and Kavanaugh about what happened almost 40 years ago. Neither candidate questioned Ford’s allegation.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mick Rich said the Senate needs to hear from Ford.

“She’s come forward and said that there was an incident that happened. That needs to be addressed, it needs to be discussed,” Rich said.

But, the Albuquerque construction contractor said, Kavanaugh’s age when the assault allegedly took place should be considered.

“I would like to see Martin Heinrich go to a high school and tell those students, ‘If you went to a party and behaved inappropriately, you have no future,’” Rich said.

Rich also accused Democrats, namely Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, of over-politicizing the issue and added that Ford’s name being leaked to the public “was about as abusive as what happened to her back then.”

“It’s all politics,” Rich said. “Dianne Feinstein coming in at the last minute, it’s politics. She’s struggling for her election, it’s about politics, across the board, I get it, I understand it. It doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable.”

A spokesman for Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson said the two-term Republican governor and two-time Libertarian presidential candidate also thinks politics are in play.

“Dr. Blasey’s accusations, that’s not political, that’s important,” Johnson campaign spokesman Joe Hunter said. “The way it’s being handled on Capitol Hill is entirely political.”

The blame, Hunter said, is on both parties.

“Democrats are using this as a way to try to delay the process. The Republicans are, at the same time, trying to use the process to move the confirmation as quickly as they can,” Hunter said. “That’s all very predictable and it’s unfortunate that it is so predictable that politics are playing into it that way.”

Hunter said Johnson still has faith in Kavanaugh’s ability to sit on the Supreme Court, with the caveat that the Senate takes the time to hear both sides of the story.

“Based on what is actually known, based on the record, the hearings and the process to date, Gary still believes Kavanaugh to be the kind of, loyal-to-the-constitution-nominee that he would support,” Hunter said. “But at the same time, clearly Dr. Blasey deserves to be heard as does Judge Kavanaugh as it relates to the current accusations and the process needs to play out.”

Both Rich and Johnson have praised Kavanaugh for his originalist view of the Constitution.

Executive Director of Southwest Women’s Law Center Pamelya Herndon said the constitutional consideration that should be taken is the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Further, Herndon said, the Senate should take special care in considering Kavanaugh given Ford’s claims.

“We’re looking at a person who might be sitting on the highest court of our country and we wouldn’t expect to see a criminal record behind him, sitting on the Supreme Court,” Herndon said.

“Whether you’re in high school or college or wherever you are, you still are responsible for being a law-abiding citizen.”

Herndon called Ford “very brave” and hopes the Senate will consider the difficulty of bringing such accusations to the public eye.

“One of the things that’s really important is that Dr. Ford decided to come forward,” Herndon said. “It’s always very difficult for women, when they have been abused or hurt or sexually assaulted in any manner, to come forth because they always tend to end up being more victimized.”