Kavanaugh approval amid ‘toxic atmosphere’

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27.
Photo by Andrew Harnik/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom

Reactions to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice among Jewish groups were split along party lines, though almost all groups expressed dismay over the divisiveness of the hearings.

Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Saturday, hours after a contentious 50-48 Senate vote confirming his appointment. His confirmation followed weeks of controversy due to accusations of sexual assault leveled against him, most notably by Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that a drunken Kavanaugh had forcibly held her down against her will at a party when they were in high school.


The Republican Jewish Coalition commended the Senate for having “acted fittingly in confirming an outstanding judge to the highest court of the land.” However, the group also lamented the “toxic atmosphere in Washington.”

“The process of confirming Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was difficult and contentious — and clear evidence of the tremendous importance of the upcoming midterm elections,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks in a statement. “Without a Republican majority in the Senate, Judge Kavanaugh could well be the last Trump nominee for any post to be confirmed.”

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The Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty (JCRL) also applauded the confirmation.

“We hope that he will faithfully interpret the free exercise and establishment clause and statutes like RFRA in order to preserve America’s admirable history of protecting religious liberty,” said JCRL General Counsel Howard Slugh.


Additionally, the conservative Coalition for Jewish Values enthusiastically congratulated Kavanaugh on his confirmation, decrying his opponents for having “attempted to deny him basic civil standards such as the presumption of innocence and the right to due process” in a statement.

“He will defend the Constitution and American values,” said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of CJV.

The liberal National Council of Jewish Women condemned the new Supreme Court justice, saying in a statement it is a “disgraceful blow to women and to justice itself.”

“Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation deals a devastating blow to the confirmation process, and to women and all survivors of sexual assault,” said NCJW CEO Nancy Kaufman. “The expectation that the Supreme Court will deal fairly and dispassionately in the foreseeable future regarding the cases brought before it, has been seriously compromised.”

Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of Women of Reform Judaism, took issue with what she saw as the inadequate scope of the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh.

“Certainly, hand-picking who the FBI can interview by the administration does not lead to confidence that it was a full investigation,” Feldman said. “And during the hearings themselves, he did not comport himself the way one would expect a justice of the Supreme Court.”

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action issued harsher objections.

“In confirming Brett Kavanaugh largely along party lines,” the organization’s statement reads, “Republican leaders made it clear that there is nothing that will stop them from maintaining their own political power at any cost.

“In their view, survivors of sexual assault do not matter, lying under oath does not matter, hiding a nominee’s record does not matter, credibility does not matter, seeking the full truth does not matter, and respect for women does not matter.”

Loribeth Weinstein of Jewish Women International expressed similar dismay in a phone interview.
“We’re terribly disappointed in the vote of the Senate, and we’re additionally disappointed in the president’s response, which was incredibly disrespectful to Dr. Blasey Ford and demeaning to
all women.”

Weinstein also took issue with the climate of partisanship in Washington.

“It shows how deeply fragmented our political system has been.”

Finally, the Jewish Democratic Council of America described the confirmation process as “rushed,” and done “under the cloud of distrust, belligerence and obfuscation” in a statement.

“Jewish Democrats strongly oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and condemn those Senators who voted to put him on the Court,” the statement reads.

JNS.org contributed to this article. Jesse Bernstein is a reporter for the Baltimore Jewish Times, an affiliated publication of Washington Jewish Week.

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