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Hundreds arrested at protest against nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to US Supreme Court

Thousands of protesters marched against the expected appointment of Kavanaugh in Washington yesterday.

Protesters opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a march on Thursday
Protesters opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a march on Thursday
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

UP TO 300 protesters have been arrested by police in the US at a rally against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Thousands of protesters marched on Washington yesterday, with some bursting into the Hart Senate Office Building to hold loud sit-in protests against the judge. 

Some held signs calling him a liar and “unfit” to serve.

“I believe Kavanaugh is part of a Big Old Boys club that is going to protect him no matter what,” said Angela Trzepkowski, 55, from Delaware.

It came the same day that the judge made a highly unusual plea to defend his impartiality in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier on Thursday Republicans confidently declared that a supplemental week-long FBI investigation found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against President Donald Trump’s court pick.

Opposition Democrats assailed the FBI probe as an incomplete vetting constrained by a White House determined to push through the lifetime appointment of the conservative 53-year-old judge.

In the op-ed piece, Kavanaugh defended his performance during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which he denied the allegations, made at the same hearing, of a California university professor. 

That teacher, Christine Blasey Ford, said he drunkenly groped her and attempted to rape her when they were teenagers attending a party decades ago.

Passionate

In his testimony, Kavanaugh complained about “a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”

But his Journal piece, headlined “I am an independent, impartial judge,” appeared aimed squarely at Republicans on the fence who have expressed concerns about his temperament and partisan attacks during the hearing.

“I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said, Kavanaugh wrote, arguing he was “forceful and passionate” in denying the allegations against him.

“I do not decide cases based on personal or policy preferences,” he added, saying the country’s top court “must never be viewed as a partisan institution.”

The self-defence came too late for John Paul Stevens, a retired Supreme Court justice who said he once believed Kavanaugh to be a fine judge on Thursday.

“But I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind,” Stevens said in Florida.

‘Very thorough’

At a rally of supporters in Minnesota Trump called Kavanaugh ”one of the most respected,” as his supporters chanted: “We want Kavanaugh”. 

Two of the three Republican lawmakers undecided on the nominee boosted his confirmation chances by signaling they believed the bureau had done a thorough probe.

“This investigation found no hint of misconduct,” Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement. “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know.”

Grassley said the full Senate should vote Saturday on Kavanaugh’s nomination, an appointment that could shift the nine-member bench to the right for decades to come.

All eyes are on the key Republicans who could make or break the confirmation: Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

If all Democrats vote against, Kavanaugh can afford only one Republican defection.

Speaking to reporters after reviewing the FBI report, Collins said it “appears to be a very thorough investigation”.

Flake, a vocal Trump critic who pushed the White House into giving the FBI an additional week to address the accusations against Kavanaugh, signaled his apparent satisfaction, saying the report contained “no additional corroborating information”.

© – AFP 2018

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