WASHINGTON — As turmoil grows over sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, casting doubts over his confirmation to the Supreme Court, a group of Mormon women is calling on senators to suspend his confirmation proceedings until a thorough investigation is completed.
The Mormon Women for Ethical Government, an activist women’s group formed in response to President Donald Trump’s election, issued a statement Monday aimed at influencing the four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are: Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
“Sexual assault must not be normalized or condoned in any way or by anyone, especially those charged with political leadership,” the group said in the statement, which they sent to the four senators and to others Monday. “We boldly condemn any attempts to justify such inexcusable and reprehensible behavior and demand that our elected leaders set a morally sound example.”
The Kavanaugh confirmation
- Kavanaugh to hear his 1st arguments as Supreme Court justice
- Kavanaugh uproar in Senate fuels GOP races for governor and House
- Alaska GOP may take punitive action against Murkowskin Kavanaugh
- Bitter fight over Kavanaugh shadows a conservative court
- After Kavanaugh vote, Susan Rice considering challenge to Collins in Maine
- McConnell says Senate 'not broken,' despite Kavanaugh fight
“If these accusations are proved false, an investigation will prevent harm to the court’s legitimacy,” the statement said. “If they are true, then Judge Kavanaugh must not be confirmed.”
The group’s founder and president, Sharlee Mullins Glenn, said that the women felt very strongly that they needed to speak out, especially to the four men who are members of the church.
“We have a shared faith, we know that they profess at least to believe that issues such as the allegations that are being levied by Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez are very, very serious,” she said.
“We are not taking sides,” she said. “We are saying, because of the seriousness of these allegations, we have to suspend the confirmation proceedings so an investigation can be conducted.”
Glenn said that as of Tuesday morning, she had not received a reply from any of the four men. Four of the six current senators who are Mormon serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has 21 members overall.
Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist in California, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, has said that he exposed himself to her at a college party. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
On the Senate floor Monday, Hatch called the second allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, by Ramirez, a “smear campaign” by Senate Democrats, and he told reporters that the allegation was “phony.”
“No innuendo has been too low, no insinuation too dirty,” he said in his floor speech. “Everything is an excuse for delay, no matter how unsubstantiated.”
Flake told Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, that he could not vote yes without a hearing. He is considered one of a handful of Republicans whose vote is critical. Republicans hold the majority on the committee by one vote, and Flake is one of several Republicans who could determine whether or not Kavanaugh receives a favorable recommendation from the committee.
The Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a nonpartisan group based in Utah, was founded six days after Trump’s inauguration in response to the nation’s political divisions and to mobilize Mormon women to be peacemakers, Glenn said.
Its membership has grown to more than 6,000 women with chapters in all 50 states and internationally. The group is not officially affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The women have also been very involved in support of immigrant rights, including holding vigils in protest of the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families at the border. The group also denounced efforts by Steve Bannon and others to justify Trump’s lewd comments in the Access Hollywood tape as “locker-room talk.”
Glenn, 57, said nearly two-thirds of women in her organization’s broader leadership team have experienced sexual assault.
“We are extremely heartened by the #MeToo movement,” she said. “It has blasted open some of this culture, the boys will be boys culture, that has been part of our society for forever.”
As is the case with partisan divisions among women across the country, Mormon women have a range of political views.
“These women have a certain perspective, and other Mormon women would view the situation differently,” said Hannah Smith, who clerked for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and who is also a church member.
“If the accusers are willing to come and testify, then they will have an opportunity to perhaps influence the Mormon senators who are on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” she said. “But as it currently stands, I think the committee has shown adequate concern for hearing these women’s voices, and that their testimony will be received and given its due wait.”