The American Bar Association called Thursday evening for postponing a vote on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and others are investigated by the F.B.I.
The request was made in a letter from the A.B.A.’s president, Robert M. Carlson, to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the senior Democrat on the panel.
It followed a day of emotional and at times painful testimony Thursday, which included Dr. Blasey’s allegations of sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh at a house party 36 years ago and his angry denial of the encounter.
The bar association urged that senators vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination “only after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Blasey and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the letter said.
The call for a pause is significant not just because of the bar association’s clout in the legal community, but because an A.B.A. committee had said unanimously a month ago that Judge Kavanaugh was “well qualified” for the Supreme Court, its highest possible designation.
Judge Kavanaugh and his supporters had noted that distinction in arguing for his nomination to be approved by the Senate.
The request for an investigation was made out of respect for the rule of law and due process, Mr. Carlson wrote.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and the facts by the F.B.I.,” he wrote.
“Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” the letter added. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”
It was unclear whether the letter could lead to a delay in the nomination process. Republican senators indicated late Thursday that they planned to pursue a committee vote Friday morning.