New Jersey legislators are somewhat split – largely along party lines – on how serious they believe the sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, who is among the legislature’s more conservative members, said the allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by a California professor named Christine Blasey Ford shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor because they happened roughly three-and-a-half decades ago, when Kavanaugh was 17.
“It’s my way of thinking, without minimizing anything that might have happened, it was 35 years ago or so,” Patrick Carroll said. “As I said at one point or another – and I’ll say it again because I’m my own best source – if you expect whether your judges or your politicians to be saints, Mother Teresa is going to get lonely.”
The dated nature of the alleged sexual assault, which Ford claimed happened at a high school party, has become a target for congressional Republicans who are not ready to dismiss the allegations outright.
Some Republican U.S. senators, including Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, have indicated they would support Ford providing testimony on the allegations during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.
Kavanaugh denied the allegations on Friday, and both he and ford have said they’re willing to testify about the incident, though it’s not yet clear whether they will be provided the opportunity to do so.
But, in New Jersey, Democrats viewed the allegations far less favorably than even congressional Republcians.
“I think it’s just another nail and another reason why this is not someone that should be on the supreme court,” said Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jacksons, who opposed the candidate even before the allegations of misconduct surfaced.
Reynold-Jackson’s opposition to Kavanaugh is largely based on his record as a judge, large portions of which have remained sealed as he undergoes his confirmation hearings.
She cited his positions on abortion and Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, as the primary drivers of her position.
And other Democrats seemed to be much in the same lane, with the allegations only adding to a list existing reasons to oppose Kavanaugh.
“With those kinds of allegations, you absolutely have to hit a pause button,” State Senate President Steve Sweeney said.
“The fact that there’re sexual assault allegations, no matter how old – they really have to be explored,” he said later.
But, while Democrats appear to be united in their opposition to Kavanaugh, Republicans are less so.
Though none expressed the sort of opposition shown by Democratic legislators, at least one Statehouse Republican is waiting until after the hearings play out to make up her mind on Kavanaugh.
“At this time, I think we need to investigate the allegation, but until that’s determined, I won’t have an opinion,” said Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso. “It’s not a deal-breaker, necessarily, but I’d like to make sure I know more about it before I make a decision. I’ve been 17 once too.”