Republicans face midterms backlash from female voters angry over Kavanaugh confirmation, women warn

'We must all commit to action in coming weeks to take back control of our government from right-wing extremists'

Chris Riotta
New York
Sunday 07 October 2018 19:06
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Protesters rally against Kavanaugh in DC

Women who led the charge in protesting against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court have vowed to continue fighting in the wake of his historic confirmation, warning Republicans they could suffer a backlash in the midterm elections.

The judge nominated by Donald Trump, who scraped through in a 50-48 vote on Saturday, left a nation polarised after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of a sexual assault while the two were in high school.

Some analysts have said the controversial nomination of Mr Kavanaugh – who is now the least popular Supreme Court justice in modern history – could ultimately see Republicans lose seats in vulnerable districts during the upcoming midterm elections.

Women’s groups and progressive policy organisations which organised massive demonstrations during the confirmation process said they would once again mobilise efforts ahead of the midterms.

“This confirmation is a deeply painful one, not just because of the radical impact it may have on Supreme Court jurisprudence, but because of the message it sends to survivors of sexual violence: that their stories carry little weight with our government,” Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn, a grassroots progressive public policy advocacy group, said in a statement sent to The Independent.

“If we organise, mobilise, and vote, we will win. We must all commit to action in coming weeks to take back control of our government from right-wing extremists."

In other ways, the backlash against Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation was evident in real time.

A fund for Republican senator Susan Collins’ potential challenger in her 2020 senatorial re-election campaign raised over $2m during her 45-minute speech on why she had decided to vote in favour of Mr Kavanaugh.

By Sunday, that fund had surpassed $3m.

“Susan Collins will never be mistaken for a moderate again,” said Heidi Hess, co-director of the social change network CREDO Action, whose members placed tens of thousands of phone calls to key senate offices during the confirmation process.

Speaking to sexual assault survivors and the activists who protested against Mr Kavanaugh, she added: “Someday soon, thanks to their persistence and grassroots organising, they'll get the responsive, respectful and progressive government they deserve."

Scores of demonstrators were detained on Capitol Hill, including the high-profile arrests of actress Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajowski, who wrote on Twitter after her release: “Today I was arrested protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault.

“Men who hurt women can no longer be placed in positions of power.”

US president Donald Trump attacks Democrats after Kavanaugh sworn in

However, not all of the response to the appointment was negative – many people also expressed unwavering support for the federal circuit judge, who declared himself an “independent, impartial judge” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed after his fiery testimony.

The dramatic confirmation process appeared to provide a boost in support for Republicans on the general ballot according to a recent NPR and PBS news poll.

Democrats had a mere 2 per cent edge over Republicans during the confirmation, whereas that same poll gave the minority party a 10-point lead in July.

For now, it remains to be seen how Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court may impact on the upcoming elections.

Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of the women’s group UltraViolet Action, put it simply: “This doesn’t end [on Saturday],” she said. “It ends in November.”

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