Ken Stier

As it became increasingly clear that Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 would be confirmed to the Supreme Court over the weekend, local politicians and activists urged Connecticut residents to express their anger at the handling of his nomination by voting in the upcoming midterm elections.

Activists stood on the steps of New Haven’s federal courthouse carrying signs that read “I believe survivors” and “liberty and justice for all” as speakers criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski for his silence on the allegations against Kavanaugh. Representatives from Planned Parenthood and the NARAL Pro-Choice America as well as state representatives and senators spoke to press and other activists at the rally, which was held in advance of the Senate vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Several speakers told their own stories of experiencing assault and told attendees to turn their frustration at the handling of Kavanaugh’s nomination into action at the voting booth.

“We need leaders who will be upstanders, not bystanders,” said State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield. “We know that all the advocacy in the world is not going to change who is sitting at the table. We will stand. We will speak. We will vote.”

Activists also praised Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ned Lamont SOM ’80 for focusing on the accusations during his campaign.

Lamont has spoken out on multiple occasions about the lack of action from the Republicans in the Senate and criticized President Donald Trump for mocking one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, at a rally last week.

“[Stefanowski] can’t take a pass on this one. Speak out,” Lamont said in an interview with the Hartford Courant. “Here [Trump] is, in a political rally, mocking this woman and trashing this woman.”

When asked whether he believed that Kavanaugh should be confirmed during a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 26, Stefanowski declined to respond calling the question a “federal issue” — leading to criticism from Lamont and other Connecticut politicians.

In a statement released last Wednesday, Stefanowski said sexual assault allegations should be taken seriously and noted that he supports the Kavanaugh FBI investigation. But Stefanowski asserted that the election is about Connecticut, not the United States Senate.

“The coming election is about Connecticut and the issues we face here,” Stefanowski said in the statement. “While I have no decision making authority over nominations to the United States Supreme Court, as governor, I will ensure that any and all nominations I make to Connecticut’s courts are individuals who are highly qualified and have demonstrated outstanding moral character.”

At Friday’s rally, State Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, shared her story of being grabbed by a man who attempted to assault her when she was 11. She said that no adult believed her until the same man was arrested for attempting to abduct another girl outside of a school.

Rose then turned her attention to Stefanowski, urging people in Connecticut to vote for Lamont in order to protect women’s rights. She noted that Stefanowski’s running mate Joe Markley had voted against a bipartisan “Yes Means Yes” law requiring affirmative consent on college campuses.

According to The Connecticut Mirror, representatives from Stefanowski’s campaign have affirmed that he supports this law.

“If this man becomes governor, we stand to lose all protections being put into place in Connecticut,” Rose said, referring to Stefanowski. “Tell Stefanowski no means no.”

National politicians have also voiced their opinion in the tight race for governor. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has canvassed across New Haven to encourage voters to come out for the midterm elections.

Murphy is expected to win by large margins in the midterm and has been using his influence to assist Lamont and his running mate, former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83.

State Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, also emphasized the importance of voting, specifically in large metropolitan areas like New Haven and Bridgeport. Moore said women in major cities showing up to the polls would make a major difference in the election.

Activists on Friday spoke about the need for politicians to support survivors who share their story on the national stage. Sally Grossman, who volunteers for Planned Parenthood, told a story of being assaulted by a college classmate and called U.S. Senators who were voting for Kavanaugh “cowards.”

“Women are trapped in a cycle of silence because of behavior like that of the Republicans,” said Mercy Quaye, a New Haven journalist who sits on the board of the Connecticut chapter of NARAL.

Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a narrow margin in a full U.S. Senate vote on Saturday.

Carolyn Sacco | carolyn.sacco@yale.edu