Updated at 5:38 p.m.
American Bar Association President Bob Carlson sent a letter Thursday night to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging the committee to investigate allegations of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before voting on his confirmation.
During his testimony Thursday regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh repeatedly pointed to his “well qualified” endorsement by the ABA for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” Carlson wrote. “The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the judiciary committee chairman, dismissed Carlson’s letter in remarks Friday.
“I’ve explained many times another FBI investigation is not necessary. The ABA is an outside organization like any other. It can share its advice, but we’re not going to let it dictate our business,” Grassley said on Capitol Hill in Washington, several hours before a scheduled committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The letter, Grassley said, was signed by the ABA president, “who is just one individual.” Grassley added: “It doesn’t alter the fact that Judge Kavanaugh received a very well-qualified rating from the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary and the standing committee did not join this letter.”
A spokesman for the ABA, responding to a question about Grassley’s remarks, said in an email: “The letter speaks for itself.”
Late Friday, the ABA’s standing committee on the judiciary said it had not seen Carlson’s letter before it was sent to the Senate. “The Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary acts independently of ABA leadership,” Paul Moxley wrote, the committee chairman, said in a letter to Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the judiciary committee.
Moxley wrote: “The committee conducts non-partisan, non-ideological and confidential peer review of federal judicial nominees. The ABA’s rating for Judge Kavanaugh is not affected by Mr. Carlson’s letter.”
The ABA’s full letter to the Senate is posted here: