The National Council of Churches (NCC) demanded Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s withdrawal Wednesday evening, citing “extreme partisan bias” and “disrespect” for Democratic committee members.
The NCC declared that Kavanaugh had “disqualified himself” with the testimony he delivered before the committee, apparently taking issue with his reaction to being accused multiple times of being present for gang rape and committing sexual assault. The group, which boasts membership from 38 Protestant and Orthodox denominations, accused Kavanaugh of lies and misstatements as well. (RELATED: Sarah Sanders Goes After Main Democratic Talking Point On Kavanaugh)
“During his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation,” the group’s statement reads.
“In addition, his testimony before the Judiciary Committee included several misstatements and some outright falsehoods, some in relation to accusations of sexual misconduct,” the statement adds.
The NCC did not, however, list the “outright falsehoods” to which they refer, though the statement implied they believe that Kavanaugh’s denial of the claims against him is false, at least in part. They also asserted that his judicial and political history with regard to “voting rights, racial and gender justice, health care, the rights of people with disabilities, and environmental protections” was “troubling.”
As for the evidence concerning the claims of sexual assault, the FBI released its supplemental background investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh on Thursday to the White House which then relayed it to the Senate. Republicans reported that the supplemental report revealed no corroborating evidence for the claims against Kavanaugh, though Democrats asserted that the investigation was not thorough enough.
The legality of a group of churches opposing or advocating for the suitability of a named Supreme Court nominee is a murky issue. Once a Supreme Court nominee is named, attempts to influence the Senate confirmation process are considered lobbying, whether they are direct or grassroots attempts. Nonprofit organizations are allowed to engage in lobbying, so long as they notify the IRS ahead of time of their intent to lobby or their efforts cannot be considered “substantial lobbying.”
The NCC’s call for Kavanaugh’s withdrawal likely does not constitute substantial lobbying, as it is neither an organized grassroots effort nor a direct communication with a legislator or legislative body.
The NCC encompasses more than 40 million individual members comprising over 100,000 congregations. While the group boasts membership from many denominations, they differ starkly from churches that identify as evangelical, given the NCC’s focus on social justice issues and its support for strengthening the authority of the UN and international law.
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