Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, now accused of sexual assault, faced the toughest questions during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing from two senators who gained a seat at the table, in part, due to the Me Too movement.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) were added to the committee in January after two men were taken down by sexual misconduct allegations. Former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced his resignation in December after eight women claimed Franken inappropriately touched them or forcibly kissed them. His departure left an open seat on the committee.
Days later, Republican Roy Moore lost his bid for Jeff Sessions’ open Senate seat in Alabama after multiple women accused Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Democrat Doug Jones’ special election win over Moore added another Democratic seat to the committee.
Before California professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were high schoolers, Booker and Harris were arguably the toughest questioners during Kavanaugh’s committee hearing.
Harris was relentless in her line of questioning about whether the judge had conversations regarding special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation with anyone employed at the law firm of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz.
When Kavanaugh said he couldn’t be sure, Harris told the nominee, “I think you’re thinking of someone, and you don’t want to tell us.”
Booker refused to back down on questions he had for Kavanaugh surrounding an email with the subject line “Racial Profiling,” even though the document had been marked “committee confidential.” After facing criticism for asking the judge about the email, Booker released the documents despite a public argument with Republican committee members.
The pair are just the second and third black senators to serve on the committee, both with extensive backgrounds in the law. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) was the first, in 1993.
Harris, elected in 2016, served two terms as the district attorney for the city and county of San Francisco. In 2011, she became the first biracial woman to serve as California attorney general. Harris was elected to the Senate before she could complete her second term as the state’s attorney general.
Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, graduated with a juris doctorate in 1997 from Yale Law School. The Rhodes Scholar helped to run a nonprofit legal clinic for low-income families during his time at Yale and worked as a staff attorney for the Urban Justice League after law school.