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Two local law school deans endorse call for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh allegations

Deans of Rutgers Law School in Camden and Widener University's Delaware Law School both said an FBI investigation is needed.

Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeRead moreWin McNamee / AP Pool

As support mounts for an FBI investigation of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, two local law school deans added their voices.

"I support a delay in the vote to allow an FBI investigation," said Rod Smolla, dean of Widener University's Delaware Law School.  "I think you saw conflicting evidence yesterday, and the best way to try to resolve it, one way or another, is to investigate it as completely as you can, and that has not taken place."

His comments came one day after college professor Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school, and Kavanaugh, just as forcefully, told the governing body he did not.

Michael Cahill, co-dean of Rutgers Law School in Camden, said he could see no reason not to conduct an investigation.

"It might turn up  further evidence to corroborate or refute either party's account, which would lend more legitimacy to the ultimate outcome either way; if such further evidence (in either direction) came to light only after the confirmation vote, it could profoundly damage public perceptions of both this process and the Court itself. The only significant cost is the time it would take, and the experience of the Merrick Garland nomination indicates that the Senate is not uncomfortable with a lengthy confirmation timetable when circumstances might warrant one."

Earlier Friday, both the American Bar Association and the dean of Yale's Law School spoke up in support of further investigation.

"Proceeding with the confirmation process without further investigation is not in the best interest of the court or our profession," Yale law dean Heather Gerken said.

Smolla acknowledged that the investigation could take longer than a week. Once an investigation starts, it could lead in other directions, he said. But it's important that the probe take place, he said.

"Whatever views people have, it at least makes it appear that it wasn't an intentionally rushed effort to avoid the truth," he said.

John Culhane, a distinguished professor of law at Delaware Law School, said without an FBI investigation, consequences could be dire.

"If they don't, chances are there will be impeachment proceedings by the Democrats in 2019," said Culhane, who teaches constitutional law.

Even with an investigation, Democrats could still try to impeach Kavanaugh if they think the review was cursory or just an attempt to check the boxes, he said.

"But I think it makes it less likely," he said.