The big open question heading into Thursday’s hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is: How will Christine Blasey Ford will perform. AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace explains. (Sept. 26)
LYNCHBURG, Virginia — Students from Liberty University, whose president Jerry Falwell Jr. is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, will rally in Washington on Thursday in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The university and the organization Concerned Women for America (CWA), which states that sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin, are sponsoring the busses.
Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who has accused the judge of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s, will both testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday.
Students at the evangelical Christian university who are making the trek to Washington say while the allegations against Kavanaugh are serious, they’re calling for him to be granted a presumption of innocence.
“Our goal is to just get support for him. Moral support,” said Victoria Belk, 21, president of Liberty’s chapter of Young Women for America, the campus version of CWA. “This could be our brother, our dad, our boyfriend and we strongly believe in our justice system and you’re innocent until proven guilty.”
The “I Stand With Brett” rally on Capitol Hill is expected to draw hundreds, said Penny Nance, president and CEO of CWA. (She wrote an opinion piece defending Kavanaugh for USA TODAY.) She couldn’t estimate how many Liberty students would arrive in Washington via the “Women for Kavanaugh” bus.
Protests in support of Ford, supported by Women’s March organizers, will also be held in Washington and a dozen other places on Thursday. The rallies follow anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations in Washington on Monday, when more than 100 people were arrested. Students from Yale University, where Kavanaugh attended, were among those who traveled to the nation’s capital for the protest.
Nance said the organization chose to send the busses from Liberty to Washington to share the perspective of conservative women. Young Woman for America members from other campuses also will travel to Washington. At a student gathering on Wednesday, Falwell encouraged students to sign up for the trip. They will be excused from classes.
“I think the Republicans are going above and beyond giving the accuser the right to be heard, maybe more than they should, but I think they should be commended for hearing her out, for taking her seriously and delaying the process so she can be heard,” Falwell said.
Some students making the trip find suspicion in the late arrival of the allegations, which surfaced shortly before senators were expected to vote on Kavanaugh.
“I don’t want to disregard the women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of these actions, and I don’t want to say that what they’re saying is completely invalid,” said Christian Lasval, a 19-year-old sophomore. “But the timing of it all and the way that it’s been handled is a little suspect to me and it would not be beneath the Democrats, considering how low they’ve stooped in the past, that they would do this just to stifle his confirmation.”
Rebekah Pryor, a sophomore, said Kavanaugh has been treated unjustly and that “people are taking sides too quickly.”
“We have to go further than just what someone is saying and both sides need to be heard,” said Pryor, 18.
Others like freshman Alexa Whaley, 18, took a stronger stance. Whaley, who calls the #MeToo movement “incredible” for giving women the chance to speak up against their aggressors, believes Kavanaugh is being falsely accused.
“I believe if they were true they would have come out beforehand,” she said.
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