While Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has rallied many women across the country in support of the California professor who has accused him of sexual assault, not all women share that view.
Female voices have echoed throughout the Senate this week demanding male senators justify their support for Kavanaugh. But in some parts of the country, other women have spent hours calling Senate offices in support of him, condemning what they see as an anti-Republican ploy that has damaged not only Kavanaugh’s reputation and livelihood but also his accuser’s.
To Hannah King, a college senior from Bristol, Tenn., Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of an attack by a drunken Kavanaugh at a 1982 party when both were in high school were jarring and scary. But while King expressed empathy for Ford, she also said she’s concerned about the timing of Ford’s allegations, which surfaced publicly only after Kavanaugh — already a federal judge — was nominated to the Supreme Court.
“It was too timely and strategic,” said King, 21. “Anything like that makes you question how true it is.”
King spoke Friday after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. Hours later, Trump ordered an FBI investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona called for one.
Flake’s request came after two women who said they had experienced sexual assault confronted him on an elevator at the Senate and challenged his stated intention to support Kavanaugh’s nomination. Two other women besides Ford have also publicly lodged complaints of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
“A lot of times, you cope by suppressing and forgetting,” said King, who leads the King University College Republicans. “But someone’s promotion isn’t something that should prompt someone to come forward.”
That sentiment was shared by Sarah Round, 69, a retired elementary school teacher of Newport Center, Vt., who said she felt empathy for Ford but not at the expense of Kavanaugh’s reputation and future.
“Possibly something happened to her,” Round said. “But I think she embellished what happened, or she would have gone to some authority or said something about it years ago.”
“I’m very empathetic to women who’ve been through this type of situation,” said Mace, 40. “But on the other side, we have laws in this country that protect individuals from being wrongfully accused.”
Emma Scott, an 18-year-old University of South Carolina freshman from Charleston, S.C., said that, while she doesn’t doubt Ford endured a trauma of some kind, she wasn’t convinced it could be tied to Kavanaugh.
“If you’re going to use sexual assault to slow somebody down, it had better be the truth,” Scott said. “Even if Brett Kavanaugh is innocent, he is still going to live with this the rest of his life.”
Mace said that she viewed the testimony as an “at all costs” effort by Democrats to win back control in Congress and possibly hold the seat open until a future Democratic president can fill it.
“Ford is political collateral, and they do not care,” Mace said.
Susan Conger, 64, a former math teacher from Augusta, Ga., who also worked in the Reagan administration, said she turned off her television during Thursday’s hearing but has followed the news coverage of the testimony.
“Instead of watching, I decided I would be better served by praying for the people who were talking and listening,” Conger said.
She has spent time volunteering with her local women’s Republican club, calling the offices of senators asking them to support Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“I’m sorry that this terrible thing happened to her at the hands of someone,” Conger said. “It’s not that I think that his accuser is a bad person. It’s not my job to judge her, because I don’t know her.”
Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — who leveled a furious partisan attack in defense of Kavanaugh during Thursday’s hearing — said Graham’s office has received as many calls from women in support of Kavanaugh as from women in opposition.
Round said she believes the whole episode could end up hurting Democrats more than helping them in the midterm election, just more than a month away.
“I am digging my heels in, and I’m hoping that a lot of conservatives are determined to vote Republican,” Round said. “I think it’s galvanized the women on the right more than it’s galvanized the women on the left.”