Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is scheduled to appear before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, September 27, as will Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who will testify that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party in the early 1980s while the pair were in high school.
The hearing will come one day after Julie Swetnick publicly alleged that Kavanaugh was “present” during her gang rape in 1982, and that she saw him engage in “highly inappropriate conduct” with other women at house parties around the same time. Swetnick’s claim follows that of Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh pushed his penis into her face during a dorm room drinking game while the pair were students at Yale University.
Ford’s testimony will likely be one of the most-watched Senate events since Anita Hill’s 1991 hearing, during which Hill testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked under him at the U.S. Department of Education. Thomas was ultimately confirmed to the Supreme Court anyway, by a margin of 52-48.
As such, the stakes for Thursday’s hearing are incredibly high—not just for Ford and Kavanaugh themselves, but for a country grappling with its inability to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misdeeds.
Here’s what you need to know.
How it will work:
The hearing will begin with Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein making opening remarks. Then, at 10:00 a.m. EST, Christine Blasey Ford will begin her statement, with no time limit prescribed. After she speaks, each committee member will have five minutes to ask questions, or cede their time to outside counsel. Republicans, wary of the optics of their all-male committee members questioning an alleged female victim of sexual assault, have already hired Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to ask questions on their behalf.
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Following the round of questioning, Ford will leave the room, and be replaced by Kavanaugh, who will undergo the same process. The Judiciary committee has already released Kavanaugh’s prepared opening remarks, in which he will deny the allegations, tell the senators that he “drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now.”
It is unclear whether Kavanaugh will change his remarks following Wendesday’s allegations made by Swetnick.
How to watch:
Most major cable news networks will carry the hearing live, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. PBS Newshour will also show the hearing for those of you without cable.
In addition to watching on TV, viewers can also watch a stream of the hearing live on the Senate Judiciary Committee website. It will also be streamed on C-SPAN’s website and YouTube channel, as well as PBS Newshour’s YouTube channel. C-SPAN’s radio station, WCSP, will also broadcast the at 90.1 FM in and around Washington, D.C., as well as streaming from their website.
What happens next:
On Tuesday, Republicans scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday morning, and planned to bring the nomination to the full Senate for a vote sometime early next week.
Following the latest allegations made by Swetnick, though, Grassley indicated he may be open to a second round of testimony. “We’re going to take this step-by-step, and you’ll have to ask me that question Thursday night,” he told reporters.
Both Ramirez and Swetnick have indicated their willingness to testify as well. It remains to be seen, however, whether Senate Republicans will give them the opportunity.