Washington: A second woman has reportedly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, a charge that can further complicate the confirmation process of US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
Justice Kavanaugh already faces a separate allegation of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, who claims Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a drunken high school party in the early 1980s.
Ford and Kavanaugh are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to address the allegations after a week of fraught public negotiations between Ford's attorneys and Senate Republicans.
The latest sexual assault allegation dated back to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Justice Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University, The New Yorker said, adding that at least two Senate Democrats were investigating the allegation.
The magazine identified the woman as Deborah Ramirez (53). She attended Yale with Justice Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology, the magazine said. Later, she spent years working for an organisation that supports the victims of domestic violence, it added.
Kavanaugh deinied the latest allegation.
"This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple,"Kavanaugh said in a statement issued through the White House.
"I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name -- and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building -- against these last-minute allegations," the Supreme Court nominee said after The New Yorker magazine published the latest allegation of sexual assault against him.
The White House continued to stand behind Justice Kavanaugh.
"This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats, designed to tear down a good man," White House Spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.
"This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men, who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college, say. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh," she added.
With Kavanaugh's confirmation prospects already hanging the balance, the news of a second set of allegations is likely to alarm Republicans who are hoping to push Kavanaugh's nomination through the Senate, where they hold a slim 51-49 majority.
Earlier in the day, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it will hear the testimony of Ford on September
27. This will occur as a continuation of the hearing to consider Justice Kavanaugh's nomination to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the US.
"Following Dr Ford's testimony, Judge Kavanaugh will appear again before the committee," a media statement said.
As a result, the committee postponed the vote on Justice Kavanaugh's nomination, previously scheduled for Monday.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Committee on the Judiciary Ranking member Dianne Feinstein, in a letter, urged President Donald Trump to direct the FBI to immediately and thoroughly investigate Ford's allegations and report to the Senate as soon as possible.
Justice Kavanaugh is the second judge being nominated by Trump on the nine-member US Supreme Court. Trump's first nominee, Judge Gorsuch, was confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2017.
Unlike India, where Supreme Court judges have a retiring age, the judges to the US Supreme Court are appointed for life. As a result, all the nominations to the apex bench have long-term implications -- mostly generational.
For instance, Judge Clarence Thomas, who was nominated by George H W Bush, has been a Supreme Court judge for nearly 27 years and Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was nominated by the then president Bill Clinton, has served on the bench for over 25 years. Judge Stephen Breyer, also nominated by Clinton, has been a Supreme Court judge for over 24 years now.