The US National Council of Churches has made an extraordinary statement calling for the withdrawal of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh's nomination has been dogged by controversy since Christine Blasey Ford came forward and accused him of assaulting her when they were both teenagers. Since then other women have accused him of misconduct. US senators are studying an FBI report today into his case – seen as a test of strength by President Donald Trump – but are widely expected to vote on party lines.
In its intervention, the NCC, which represents around 100,000 congregations and 45 million churchgoers, says Kavanaugh has 'disqualified himself from this lifetime appointment and must step aside immediately'.
Among its reasons are that he 'exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation'.
The statement said the NCC was 'deeply disturbed by the multiple allegations of sexual assault' and called for a 'full and unhindered investigation'.
The FBI probe has been criticised for its brevity and it has been widely reported that witnesses wishing to give evidence had not been contacted.
The statement also said Kavanaugh's testimony before the Judicial Committee 'included several misstatements and some outright falsehoods'. It also criticised his record on 'issues of voting rights, racial and gender justice, health care, the rights of people with disabilities, and environmental protections', saying 'This leads us to believe that he cannot be an impartial justice in cases that are sure to come before him at the Court.'
The mainstream NCC is at odds with evangelicals, who largely back Kavanaugh. Pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump's most loyal supporters, said on Fox & Friends on September 30: 'They realize now, conservative Christians, that the left is willing to do whatever it takes to cram their liberal agenda down the throats of Americans, including destroying the foundation of our legal system, the presumption of innocence.'