Hiral Tipirneni, the Democratic nominee in Arizona's 8th Congressional District, appeared to signal her support on Saturday for impeaching recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh if the Democratic Party takes control of the House of Representatives after the midterm elections.
During a debate with her Republican opponent, incumbent Rep. Debbie Lesko, Tipirneni was asked if she supported the pledge made by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) to investigate Kavanaugh over accusations of decades-old sexual assault, provided Democrats were in the majority.
"There’s been talk in the House by Democrats," local television host John Hook said, "… that there might be a move in the U.S. House of Representatives, if Democrats got control, to possibly try to impeach Justice Kavanaugh. Is that something you would favor?"
Nadler, who is poised to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee if Democrats win control, has promised to use his chairmanship to look into the allegations against Kavanaugh and the possibility that the justice perjured himself during the confirmation process. Although Nadler has refused to confirm whether the end result of such an investigation would be impeachment, his pledge has raised exactly that hope among progressives activists.
Kavanaugh was confirmed to the high court earlier this month after accusations of sexual misconduct, which dated back to when the nominee was a teenager, remained uncorroborated.
Tipirneni refused to clarify her support for impeachment, instead claiming Kavanaugh's "character" and "temperament" showed he was not "beyond reproach."
"I believe that if you are appointed to the highest court of the land that you should be—that your character, your ability to be nonpartisan, your temperament, all of those things … should be maintained," Tipirneni said. "They should be beyond reproach. And that was not reflected in Judge Kavanaugh."
The moderator followed up by inquiring if the candidate believed it was "okay" for a Democratic-controlled House to go "down the road" of impeaching Kavanaugh, considering an FBI investigation into the matter was unable to corroborate the allegations.
While asserting there were other priorities that ranked first, the candidate admitted the issue couldn't be avoided totally as Kavanaugh's presence on the nation's highest court would have "long-standing consequences."
"There are a lot of fires to be put out. I would say: It has long-standing consequences," she said. "We’re talking about impacting civil rights. We’re talking about voting rights. We’re talking about women’s reproductive health rights. You’re talking about presidential powers. It has wide-reaching consequences."
Lesko, who defeated Tipirneni for the seat earlier this year in a special election triggered by the resignation of former Republican congressman Trent Frank, noted it appeared as though her opponent was declaring her support impeaching Kavanaugh.
"I would vote for full transparency," Tipirneni said.
This is not the first time the Democrat has floated ideas outside of the political mainstream.
In April, Tipirneni expressed support for late-term abortions, arguing the decision should be left to "medical input from very experienced physicians." In defending her stance on abortion, Tipirneni cited her own medical training and her experience as an emergency room physician. Her experience, however, has come into question. The Washington Free Beacon previously reported that Tipirneni hasn't actively treated patients since 2007 when she was sued for medical malpractice.
Tipirneni has also come out in favor of abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency tasked with enforcing immigration laws and combating cross-border crime.
During the debate, Lesko pointed out that her Democratic opponent's political positions strongly diverge from voters in the district, which President Donald Trump carried by over 20 percentage point in 2016.
"This is how radical the Democrats have gotten," Lesko said. "They're calling for abolishing ICE. They’re calling for impeaching Kavanaugh. The Democrats of years ago have really changed."