Jewish Groups React to Kavanaugh Confirmation

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 10: Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves the room following a meeting and press availability with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) at the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to succeed retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the 114th justice on the U.S. Supreme Court Saturday, just hours after a contentious 50-48 Senate vote confirming Kavanaugh’s appointment to the nation’s highest court. On Monday night, President Donald Trump held a ceremonial swearing-in for Kavanaugh at the White House. His confirmation follows weeks of controversy due to accusations of sexual assault leveled against him, most notably by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh had forcibly held her down against her will at a party in the early 1980s.

Reactions to the confirmation among Jewish groups were split down party lines, though almost all groups expressed dismay over the divisiveness of the hearings.

The Republican Jewish Coalition commended the Senate for having “acted fittingly in confirming an outstanding judge to the highest court of the land.” However, they 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.”

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,” JCRL general counsel Howard Slugh told JNS.

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.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told the JT that his organization hasn’t commented publicly on a Supreme Court confirmation since Louis D. Brandeis, and that was only because of his past presidency with the organization. Klein said that the ZOA doesn’t take positions on nominations unless they believe it is of direct importance to Israel’s safety, which is why they originally commended Kavanaugh’s nomination, due to his understanding of “the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism.”

“Given the controversy, we don’t take a position,” he added.

However, groups like 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 told the JT. “And during the hearings themselves, he did not comport himself the way one would expect of 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.

Additional reporting by Jackson Richman,

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  1. Amazing the only people you could find to speak against this repugnant appointment are women—AFTER you front-loaded the article with quotes from men supportive of Kavanaugh, who showed us exactly who he is during those hearings. (A sometime blackout drunk who tells provable lies under oath about events and issues large and small.) Other quotes damning Kavanaugh are pulled from statements instead of original reporting. Lazy. If this is the way Jewish men feel about credible accusations of sexual misconduct, I don’t have any use for them. But since the Jewish men I know don’t feel this way, I’ll chalk it up to bias, laziness or both. I would advise members of the Jewish community who support this vile administration to revisit Martin Niemoller (“First they came…”) They certainly will gain nothing from deplorably lazy and biased reporting, which, in this case, amounts to little more than the propaganda on Fox News. I really don’t get why many Jews are largely taking a backseat or actually supporting anything this administration does. Replace the word “Muslim” or “Mexican” with the word “Jew” and maybe then maybe you can rouse some empathy. Because if we continue down this sexist, racist, xenophobic path Trump has laid out for us, we will eventually find ourselves with leaders who don’t have Jewish grandchildren. And even if we don’t, is slumlord Jared Kushner the best we can do for a role model? I consider myself more American than Jewish at this point, but we must never forget: Anne Frank was not from a religious family. The Jews in Germany thought they were assimilated, too. If you’re not outraged, you’re simply not paying attention. Keep lying to yourself that this is about keeping out all those dirty Arabs and other brown people you learned to hate in Hebrew school, and soon there will be no one left to stand up for YOU.


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