After President Donald Trump on Friday reluctantly directed the FBI to launch a probe into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—delaying a final confirmation vote by up to a week—progressive opponents of the right-wing judge moved to take advantage of the “new opportunity for pressure” by intensifying their campaign of calls, ads, and direct action aimed at persuading the handful of undecided senators to vote no on Kavanaugh.
“Against the wishes of many Republicans…the FBI will take one week to investigate the claims of rape and sexual assault against Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, all eyes are back on Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—the two most likely Republican swing votes on Kavanaugh. They have the deciding votes,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) noted in an email to supporters late Friday. “We’re moving boldly to defeat Brett Kavanaugh once and for all.”
In addition to Collins and Murkowski—who both expressed support for the FBI investigation into accusations against Kavanaugh—grassroots groups are also focusing their attention on Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), both of whom remain undecided.
The PCCC’s renewed call to action—which came just hours after demonstrations at Senate offices nationwide—was echoed by women’s rights groups and progressive organizers who have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to defeat Kavanaugh, who has been credibly accused by multiple women of sexual assault and whose ideological bent poses an enormous threat to women’s reproductive rights, workers, and the planet.
“Pressure works. Kavanaugh has sparked a massive grassroots uprising of women who will be heard,” noted Indivisible co-executive director Leah Greenberg, pointing to Sen. Jeff Flake’s last-minute demand for an FBI probe after he was confronted by sexual assault survivors in a Senate elevator.
Organizers warned on Friday that—in the final stages of the confirmation process—now is not the time to be “lulled into complacency” and urged Americans to keep the pressure on their representatives.
“We’re still on limited time,” noted activist and writer Celeste Pewter. “Please continue calling.”
Despite agreeing to delay the final votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination until the FBI completes its probe, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) late Friday held a procedural voice vote on a motion to move ahead with the judge’s nomination.
All 51 Republican senators reportedly voted yes on the motion, which sends Kavanaugh past an initial procedural hurdle.
The Friday evening voice vote came just hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve Kavanaugh by a 11-10 party-line vote, clearing the way for his nomination to be considered by the full Senate.
If Kavanaugh is to be confirmed, Republicans can only afford to lose one GOP senator, as long as every Democrat votes no.
“This was a cowardly move by Senate Republicans who are trying to force through the nomination of a man who is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court,” PCCC co-founder Adam Green said in a statement following the committee vote. “Brett Kavanaugh is unfit for the court—any court—and he should resign or be removed from his position as judge immediately. Grassroots groups will continue to ramp up pressure on all Republican senators to oppose Kavanaugh.”