Across the U.S., people spent the day rapt, watching or listening to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The proceedings were emotional throughout, as Ford told the story of the sexual assault that she alleges Kavanaugh made against her when the two were in high school, more than 30 years ago.
Once Kavanaugh took the stand, the hearing became contentious and angry as well. The scene was intense: A single room on Capitol Hill was suddenly both the symbol and a microcosm of national divisions.
Reporters for public radio stations across the U.S. spoke with people to hear their reactions to the day’s dramatic proceedings. Here are perspectives from a few of those they spoke with.
“I watched the clip of it on TV. [Ford] is totally believable,” said Ann Lynch, in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. “She breaks my heart.”
But Lynch said she thought that Kavanaugh would still be confirmed: “It’s happened before, with Clarence Thomas, and I don’t think the world has changed that much.”
Derek Fortin shared that sentiment.
“I thought it was compelling and sad that someone … had this trauma that’s happened to her,” he said. “I mean, she’s clearly credible, but then again I think no woman in their right mind would ever, ever make a lie like that.”
He also believes Kavanaugh will be confirmed: “Unfortunately, yes. I think we’re at a point where it doesn’t really matter what people say.”
But Alvero Farias thought it would be hard to see Kavanaugh on the bench now.
“Given that people probably lost a lot of trust in him,” said Farius. “And it would be hard to justify — these allegations are coming up about him, but not other people — how do they justify putting him in such an important role? So hopefully not, it wouldn’t be him. I’m sure they could find another Republican who doesn’t have such a record.”
“Everyone is just completely captivated by it,” said Kelly King Joyce, a third-year student at the University of Colorado Law School. “Even with the election in 2016, I didn’t feel that sense of captivation.”
Adrian Untermeyer, a second-year student at the law school, is one of those who were riveted.
“I listened to the beginning of the hearing in my car, and then I frantically put on my headphones for the few seconds when I’d be walking into the building,” said Untermeyer. “It seems like a lot of the frustration in the country is bubbling over and being channeled into this confirmation hearing and it really pulls from every thread of the political discussion.”
In Phoenix, Kelly Moore said that she found Kavanaugh to be more believable.
“For them to wait this long, for them to come forward and these women to make these allegations … it just is a huge red flag for me,” she said. “Because being a woman, if something gets done to me, or something negative happens to me, I’m not going to be one that’s going to keep my mouth shut, especially if this person is a public figure like he’s been for all these years.”
“I think that he should probably withdraw his nomination, and then probably also resign,” said Sam Kacprowicz. “But at the very least, there needs to be an FBI investigation in the matter.”
‘It’s very important to get the right person,” said Kirk Nicodemus, in nearby Scottsdale. “If you look at Kavanaugh’s history, in his voting and what he’s done for the community, he’s done a very good job. He’s been pretty much a role model. But you know, you have stuff like this, and that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and that doesn’t mean it can just go away.”
“Time will tell,” he said, “and I think it’s important for people to hear both sides.”
Monica Nicodemus, his wife, said that watching the morning’s testimony, “you could definitely tell that Miss Ford was going through a lot of pain and suffering. It was nice to see that the committee was treating her with respect and kindness.”
“I would like them to do an FBI investigation,” she added. “I’m not quite sure what the holdup is about that. I don’t understand why that hasn’t already taken place.”
But for Jerry Hall, speaking to a reporter in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon, bigger doubts remain.
“I hope we get to the bottom,” he said. “I don’t know if the process is strong enough to work for us.”
WGBH’s Maggie Penman reported from Boston, Dan Boyce reported from Boulder, and KJZZ’s Will Stone reported from Arizona.