Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, took to the Senate floor on Wednesday night to deliver an impassioned and at times emotional speech about the “very important” Me Too movement, the “widespread legacy of sexual assault” in America and the deep hurt and damage that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has wreaked on the country.
Sasse, one of the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted last week to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward, stressed, however, that a vote for the federal appellate judge should not be a “proxy” for validating women’s claims of sexual assault. Sasse didn’t say he would not continue to support Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
This confirmation vote is “about one vacant seat on the Supreme Court” and not a “giant binary choice about the much broader issue of whether we do or don’t care about women,” he said.
Sen. Ben Sasse says he urged President Trump to nominate someone other than Brett Kavanaugh. https://t.co/joonlSPjKa
— Circa (@Circa) October 4, 2018
In his speech, Sasse condemned President Donald Trump’s recent “mockery” of Christine Blasey Ford, the Palo Alto University research psychologist who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. Sasse added that he’d urged the president in “June and early July” to nominate an unspecified woman for the Supreme Court seat.
“Although I’ve said many complimentary things about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his distinguished record of 12 years of service on the D.C. circuit court, I will say that I urged the president back in June and early July to make a different choice — before he announced this nomination,” Sasse said.
“I urged him to nominate a different individual. I urged the president to nominate a woman,” he continued.
Senator Sasse on the floor: We all know that the President cannot lead us through this time. We know that he's dispositionally unable to restrain his impulse to divide us. His mockery of Dr. Ford in Mississippi was wrong but it doesn't really surprise anyone. It’s who he is."
— Alan He (@alanhe) October 4, 2018
His voice breaking, Sasse later told the story of two “dear friends” who had been victims of rape and cited statistics about the credibility of the vast majority of allegations of sexual violence.
“I’ve wept with the victims of sexual assault, and I believe the advocacy groups’ data that between one-fifth and one-third of American women have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives,” Sasse said, adding that, though the Me Too movement was “complicated,” it’s been a “good thing.”
Still, the lawmaker said Kavanaugh’s vote should not be viewed through the lens of Me Too.
“This is not about choosing between believing our daughters and protecting our sons. That choice is false,” Sasse said.
The vote should not be a “proxy for the validation and validity of claims of sexual violence,” he concluded.
Some Twitter users reacted to Sasse’s speech with skepticism, saying the senator was trying to “have it both ways.”
“If you are serious ... the world is watching,” author Maureen Johnson tweeted.
Minutes after Sasse’s speech, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed forward with a key procedural vote on Kavanaugh — despite the fact that the FBI investigation into Ford’s allegation against the judge has not been concluded.
If you are serious, @BenSasse, the world is watching. If you vote yes on Kavanaugh your name will go down in history as someone who let it happen. All of America will speak against you. You could be a hero here. You could have a conscience. No matter what, no one is looking away,
— Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) October 4, 2018
.@BenSasse You can't have it both ways, Senator. We see what you're doing. Making a floor speech claiming you respect women and survivors before validating an entirely corrupted confirmation process absent of transparency will not reflect kindly on you moving forward. Cowardly.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) October 4, 2018
hey @BenSasse you know there’s something you could do, right? you know you have a choice, right? you can be remembered as someone with morals or you can be a tiny footnote in history along with the rest of the republicans voting through a sexual predator to the supreme court.
— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) October 4, 2018
.@BenSasse just put on a master class in trying to have it both ways.
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) October 4, 2018
I have more faith in the integrity of Kanye West over the integrity of Ben Sasse
— Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) October 4, 2018
Oh I see he's trying to make himself feel better about voting for Kavanaugh by claiming that confirming him doesn't invalidate the claims of Dr. Ford and other assault victims.
Actually that's exactly what it does so thanks for that @BenSasse
— Fiddler (@cFidd) October 4, 2018
Unless @BenSasse intends to vote no on Kavanaugh, all his words are empty and should be treated as such, even if the press fawns all over it
— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) October 4, 2018
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.