Sen. Heidi Heitkamp told WDAY on Tuesday she will not vote to appoint Brett Kavanaugh amid sexual assault allegations. The announcement is coming at a time when her midterm poll numbers are looking less than favorable, falling behind Kevin Cramer by double digits in a recent Fox News poll.
Christine Blasey Ford gave a “heartfelt, credible and persuasive testimony,” Heitkamp said in a written statement. The senator said countless women have shared their own personal battles with sexual assault with her.
Heitkamp said there are “many extremely qualified candidates to serve on the (Supreme) Court” and she is ready to work with the president “to confirm a nominee who is suited for the honor and distinction of serving this lifetime appointment.”
In an interview with WDAY, Heitkamp explained her decision: “It’s a lifetime appointment. This is not a political decision. If this were a political decision for me, I would be deciding this the other way. There is an old saying, ‘History will judge you, but most importantly you will judge yourself,’ and that is what I am saying. I can’t get up in the morning and look at the life experience I have had and say yes to Judge Kavanaugh.”
Joel Heitkamp, a local radio personality, praised his sister’s decision and echoed part of her reasoning. “She might lose,” Joel Heitkamp told MSNBC. “When she’s brushing her teeth, she needs to like the person she sees in the mirror.”
One of Sen. Heitkamp’s democratic colleagues, Sen. Amy Klobuchar praised Heitkamp’s announcement in a tweet: “Her decision today is the essence of what John McCain was referring to when he said ‘Nothing in life is more liberating’ than standing up for something ‘larger than yourself.’”
The senator is not alone in her dissent. More than 2,400 law professors signed a letter urging Congress not to vote in Kavanaugh. Locally, University of North Dakota law professor Tammy Pettinato Oltz signed her name on the letter that was published by the New York Times.
Oltz told the Forum, “I just don’t think that is appropriate for any judicial nominee,” in regard to Kavanaugh’s comment of “what goes around, comes around” during the Senate hearing.
“In the hearing he had last Thursday, he was very aggressive and partisan. I’m concerned with his ability to be impartial with things that come before him on the court,” Oltz said.
A poll conducted by the Strategic Research Associates and North Dakota’s NBC affiliate KFYR showed that 60 percent of North Dakotans support Kavanaugh’s nomination and 27 percent oppose.
The poll also showed the Supreme Court nomination is the leading issue in the minds of North Dakotans by a plurality (21 percent).