Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will vote “no” on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“The process has been bad,” she said in an interview with WDAY News. “But at the end of the day, you have to make a decision — and I’ve made that decision. I will be voting ‘no’ on Judge Kavanaugh.”
She elaborated in a statement: “When considering a lifetime appointment to Supreme Court, we must evaluate the totality of the circumstances and record before us. In addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality. These are critical traits for any nominee to serve on the highest court in our country.”
She added that it took “great courage” for professor Christine Blasey Ford to come forward and testify, and that she heard echoes of other sexual assault survivors she’s met in Blasey Ford’s story.
Heitkamp has been one of the most closely watched senators during the confirmation process, as she is facing an extremely tough reelection fight in a state President Donald Trump won in 2016. Recent polling does not bode well for her, with two surveys showing her down by double digits.
Heitkamp faced some pressure on her vote, with the Judicial Crisis Network taking out ad buys pressuring her to confirm the judge.
Despite her decision to stay with the Democratic bloc on this vote, she has crossed the aisle before and voted to confirm Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
Read Heitkamp’s statement here:
“As I said after Judge Kavanaugh was nominated, and as I’ve continued to say throughout this process, I consider vetting nominees to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court as one of the most important jobs of any U.S. senator – and I take that job very seriously. That’s what North Dakotans expect of their senators, which is why I met with Judge Kavanaugh, closely watched his hearings, and reviewed his available record during this evaluation process – including the nonpartisan FBI investigation which I called for. After doing my due diligence and now that the record is apparently closed, I will vote against his confirmation.
“We need to take politics out of the Supreme Court as much as possible, and it takes Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, the administration, and individuals around the country to help make that possible. We live in a very divisive time, but we can change that. Both sides horribly handled the process around this nomination. We must learn from these mistakes.
“I voted for Justice Gorsuch because I felt his legal ability and temperament qualified him to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is different. When considering a lifetime appointment to Supreme Court, we must evaluate the totality of the circumstances and record before us. In addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality. These are critical traits for any nominee to serve on the highest court in our country.
“There has been much public debate about Thursday’s hearing, and it has furthered a national discussion about stopping sexual assault that is long overdue and we must continue to have. I have spent much of my time in public service – including as North Dakota’s Attorney General – focused on combating domestic violence and protecting women and children from abuse. Our actions right now are a poignant signal to young girls and women across our country. I will continue to stand up for them.
“When I served as North Dakota’s Attorney General, I helped implement the original Violence Against Women Act and I saw how it helped survivors and victims across my state. As a U.S. senator, the reauthorization of the law was the first bill I helped pass, and I insisted that it include increased protections for Native American women and girls. My lifetime of work, advocacy, and commitment to these issues, and to these women and girls, helped inform my decision today.
“Dr. Ford gave heartfelt, credible, and persuasive testimony. It took great courage and also came at great personal cost. She had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward with her deeply personal story. It was clear that she was testifying not because she wanted to, but because she felt it was her civic duty. When I listened to Dr. Ford testify, I heard the voices of women I have known throughout my life who have similar stories of sexual assault and abuse. Countless North Dakotans and others close to me have since reached out and told me their stories of being raped or sexually assaulted – and expressed the same anguish and fear. I’m in awe of their courage, too. Some of them reported their abuse at the time, but others said nothing until now. Survivors should be respected for having the strength to share what happened to them – even if a generation has since passed. They still feel the scars and suffer the trauma of abuse.
“There are many extremely qualified candidates to serve on the Court. I’m ready to work with the President to confirm a nominee who is suited for the honor and distinction of serving this lifetime appointment.”