As the Senate prepares to vote on Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court, retired SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens reportedly said that Kavanaugh's testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week should disqualify him from serving on the highest court. According to The Palm Beach Post, Stevens noted that before the testimony in question, he thought Kavanaugh "had the qualifications" to be a justice until seeing his testimony last Thursday.
"His performance at the hearings changed my mind," said Stevens at an event Thursday in Boca Raton. "The senators should pay attention to this."
Stevens was appointed to the court by Gerald Ford in 1975, and retired in 2010. He was replaced by current Justice Elena Kagan. Despite being a Republican judge appointed by a Republican president, Stevens gradually drifted to the left over his 35 years on the bench, and frequently angered conservatives by siding with the court's liberal bloc on hot-button issues. He was known as the court's "liberal lion" by the time he retired.
Kavanaugh testified regarding the multiple sexual misconduct allegations that have been made against him since his nomination to the court, all of which he categorically denies. He was defiant and unapologetic, at one point blaming the Clintons for the accusations against him, and his testimony has been described by various observers as "petulant," "angry," "histrionic," "snarling," "unhinged," and "unprecedentedly partisan."
Stevens isn't alone in his estimation: Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Kavanaugh who initially supported his nomination, retracted his support because of Kavanaugh's testimony, which he described in an Atlantic op-ed as "wholly inconsistent with the conduct we should expect from a member of the judiciary."
After Stevens' comments were reported, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy seconded them on Twitter.
"I agree with Justice Stevens," Leahy tweeted. "Judge Kavanaugh’s partisanship and temperament would do lasting damage to the credibility of the Court — an often overlooked consequence should he be confirmed."
Initially, many Democrats and Republicans thought Kavanaugh would sail through his confirmation hearings with little to no resistance. However, that changed when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denied this, but Ford's accusation was quickly followed by two others: one from Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed his penis to her at a party in college, and Julie Swetnick, who accused Kavanaugh of facilitating the gang rape and molestation of her and other women at parties in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied those allegations as well.
At the request of several Republican senators, the FBI carried out a limited investigation into some of the allegations earlier in the week. However, that investigation was criticized before it was finished when it was reported that the FBI declined to interview Ford, Kavanaugh, Swetnick, and more than 20 other potential witnesses to the various allegations against the judge.