Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) opened a debate in his home district Thursday by joking that he almost had to skip it and return to Washington to deal with a new sexual assault allegation concerning the Supreme Court
“Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news on the Kavanaugh hearings?” Norman asked the crowd at the Kiwanis Club of Rock Hill, South Carolina. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out saying she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”
Norman was mocking the allegation by California college professor Christine Blasey Ford that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for Supreme Court, held her down and sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school. He also was mocking the high court’s oldest justice, the 85-year-old Ginsburg.
According to the Charleston-based Post and Courier, Norman’s crack “appeared to elicit some scattered nervous laughter and applause” from the debate crowd.
The South Carolina Democratic Party was quick to condemn the tasteless joke.
Norman is not the first prominent Republican to make light of Blasey’s allegation. Donald Trump Jr., in an Instagram post earlier this week, seemingly compared the alleged interaction between Blasey and Kavanaugh to a schoolyard crush.
Blasey’s allegation, of course, is serious. She told The Washington Post that she thought Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her while, she said, he held her down and cupped his hand over her mouth to silence her screams. She and her lawyers have urged the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the incident and she is negotiating with the Senate Judiciary Committee about testifying before it next week.
Norman barely defeated Democrat Archie Parnell in a June 2017 special election for the House seat. The two face each other again in November’s midterm election and they were squaring off in a debate when Norman made his joke.
Parnell has had to deal with controversy stemming from his 1973 divorce, which according to court records was granted to his then-wife “on the ground of physical cruelty.” No charges were filed against him.