As thousands rallied outside the capital in Washington, the University of Utah’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) rallied on Thursday evening outside the Wallace Bennett Federal building protesting a potential confirmation of Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, as justice of the Supreme Court. SDS members chanting “lock him up” and “reject Kavanaugh” waived signs and spoke through a megaphone about the reasons they believed Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. A dozen feet away five members of the U’s College Republicans held signs supporting a confirmation for Kavanaugh.
From the start, Kavanaugh’s judicial committee hearing has been fraught with controversy. Democrats pushed for the public release of documents on Kavanaugh’s background that had been classified as confidential. The documents were related to Kavanaugh’s position as advisor to former President G. W. Bush. Republicans accused the Democratic Senate minority of attempting to curtail the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Just as the Senate judiciary committee was set to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, allegations of sexual assault that Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University, had made against Kavanaugh were leaked to the media. Ford accused the Supreme Court nominee of locking her in a room and attempting to remove her clothing while covering her mouth so that she could not scream. The alleged incident occurred while the two were students in high school and attending a mutual friend’s house party.
On Sept. 27, both Ford and Kavanaugh gave their separate testimonies regarding the allegation to the senate judiciary committee. Ford was questioned by Democrats and by Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor hired by Republicans in the judiciary committee. Kavanaugh denied Ford’s allegations and, when questioned about drinking habits, stated that he likes beer but that he has never lost consciousness due to drinking.
Since Kavanaugh’s statement, made under oath, a group of Kavanaugh’s former college friends has released a letter claiming that Kavanaugh lied under oath about his drinking habits. The letter detailed an incident where the group claims Kavanaugh caused an altercation at a concert while heavily intoxicated.
During the protests, a couple of members of SDS squared off in a discussion with one man who claimed that Ford did not have enough evidence to have a case against Kavanaugh. The discussion remained peaceful. SDS members told the man that the allegation that Kavanaugh lied under oath was another reason to be concerned.
Frances Floresca, U student and member of College Republicans who attended the counter-protest says she believes Kavanaugh should be confirmed. Floresca stated that “it’s very terrible on both sides not just on Kavanaugh’s side but also on Ford’s side.” She indicated that she was concerned for Ford due to the leak of Ford’s confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Floresca stated that she was concerned “the democratic party might be using Dr. Ford” to further their agenda.
Bianca Quigley, a freshman at Westminster College said she attended the protest because as a sexual assault survivor she believes “that it is very important that his [Kavanaugh’s] actions don’t go unnoticed.” She stated that she felt “distraught beyond belief that this is an issue that we are having.” Quigley also stated that she was “emotionally moved” when watching Ford’s testimony last week, as it reminded her of similar experiences she has had as a survivor.
Sarah King, a member of SDS who says she is also a survivor of sexual assault stated that “Kavanaugh is a symptom that is built in a society that believes that boys will be boys — where boys get away with everything and are not taught to be accountable for their actions.”
Results of a week-long FBI investigation into Kavanaugh’s background were provided to the senate judiciary committee on Thursday. A preliminary vote to move to confirmation took place on Friday evening, the final vote was scheduled for Saturday. Kavanaugh was confirmed and subsequently sworn in. Democratic senators have called the investigation a sham because the FBI did not interview Kavanaugh or Ford as well as other witnesses, they claim are important for the case. Republicans senators stated the evidence is insufficient and does not corroborate Ford’s allegations.
SDS posted a statement to Facebook vowing to “march” against the confirmation of Kavanaugh. In the statement, the group pledges to “show the ruling class that we [SDS] will fight tooth and nail for the rights of women, people of color, LGBTQ+, workers and undocumented people.”