Worried their chance to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could slip away, a growing number of evangelical and anti-abortion leaders are expressing frustration that Senate Republicans and the White House are not protecting Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh more forcefully from a sexual assault allegation and warning that conservative voters may stay home in November if his nomination falls apart.
Several of these leaders, including ones with close ties to the White House and Senate Republicans, are urging Republicans to move forward with a confirmation vote imminently unless the woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, agrees to share her story with the Senate Judiciary Committee within the next few days.
Dr. Blasey’s lawyers told the committee Thursday that she was willing to testify next week, pending negotiations over “terms that are fair,” but not on Monday as Senate Republicans had wanted.
The evangelical leaders’ pleas are, in part, an attempt to apply political pressure: Some of them are warning that religious conservatives may feel little motivation to vote in the midterm elections unless Senate Republicans move the nomination out of committee soon and do more to defend Judge Kavanaugh from what they say is a desperate Democratic ploy to prevent President Trump from filling future court vacancies.
“One of the political costs of failing to confirm Brett Kavanaugh is likely the loss of the United States Senate,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition who is in frequent contact with the White House.
“If Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such an obviously and eminently qualified and decent nominee,” Mr. Reed added, “then it will be very difficult to motivate and energize faith-based and conservative voters in November.”
The evangelist Franklin Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most unwavering defenders, told the Christian Broadcasting Network this week, “I hope the Senate is smarter than this, and they’re not going to let this stop the process from moving forward and confirming this man.”
Social conservatives are already envisioning a worst-case scenario related to Judge Kavanaugh, and they say it is not a remote one. Republican promises to shift the Supreme Court further to the right — which just a few days ago seemed like a fait accompli — have been one of the major reasons conservatives say they are willing to tolerate an otherwise dysfunctional Republican-controlled government. If Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination fails, and recent political history is any guide, voters will most likely point the finger not at Mr. Trump but at Republican lawmakers.
To be sure, evangelicals leaders are trying to push Senate leaders to stiffen their resolve to force the Kavanaugh confirmation to a vote at a time when it may be politically perilous to do so. And the likelihood that the base will stay home in November and risk handing the Senate to the Democrats may be relatively low, given how popular Mr. Trump remains with white evangelicals.
Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporters, said he did not know who was telling the truth, Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Blasey. “But I can say with absolute certainty,” he added, “that the Democrats don’t care who is telling the truth. Their only interest is in delaying and derailing this confirmation.”
In pressing for a quick resolution, conservatives are making a risky bet that the jubilation from their own base over Judge Kavanaugh’s speedy confirmation would outweigh the likely backlash from independent voters they need — especially women.
On Thursday, more groups affiliated with the religious right piled on: Concerned Women of America’s legislative action committee sent a blast to its members urging “No More Delays,” and the American Family Association sent out another, “Confirm Kavanaugh Now!”
The importance of the Supreme Court to the Trump White House and the Republican Party is difficult to overstate. Mr. Trump has heralded Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Judge Kavanaugh, his two Supreme Court nominees, as crowning achievements in an otherwise uneven presidency. Conservative groups have spent tens of millions of dollars building the men up as legal luminaries, gentleman scholars and the fulfillment of Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to nominate judges who have “a record of applying the Constitution just as it was written,” as one ad by the Judicial Crisis Network described Judge Kavanaugh.
A relatively smooth, predictable confirmation fight has also been a key part of Republicans’ strategy to keep the Senate. In the 10 states that Mr. Trump won where Democratic senators are up for re-election, Republicans have attacked Democrats for either opposing the judge or remaining noncommittal. But Dr. Blasey’s claims may have given Democrats who were on the fence a way to vote no without paying a steep political price.
Even social conservatives who describe Dr. Blasey’s account as part of a Democratic plot to upend the nomination acknowledge the bind they are in. While they decry the process as tainted and unfair, some are also arguing that they cannot be indifferent and insensitive to a victim.
“The worst thing that can ever happen to any woman or man who has been a victim is to shut them down and not listen to them,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion rights. “A tragic piece of this is people who will use that pain for an agenda. That is so clearly what is happening now.”
In the days since Dr. Blasey went public in an interview with The Washington Post and alleged that, when they were both teenagers, Judge Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed, clapped his hand over her mouth and groped her, Republican leaders and White House officials have urged a muted and restrained approach. Show Dr. Blasey respect; offer to hear her out; and avoid questioning her credibility, at least directly, they have agreed in private conversations.
But many conservatives see little use in being deferential when, they argue, the Democrats play by no such rules. They look back at the failed confirmation of the Republican nominee Robert Bork in 1987, whose writings on civil rights were picked over by Democrats, and the 1991 hearings for Clarence Thomas, who faced testimony from Anita Hill that he had sexually harassed her, and they see a sophisticated and ruthless Democratic machine bent on discrediting their nominees.
“Republicans are right, as a moral matter as well as a political matter, to take allegations of misbehavior like this seriously,” said Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project and a veteran social conservative strategist. “At the same time, we’ve seen anything and everything thrown at Republican Supreme Court nominees for decades,” he added, noting that Republicans have been slow to understand that Democrats are “playing by different rules.”
“From the point of view of the average Republican conservative,” Mr. Cannon added, “these people aren’t the apparent monsters they’re being made out to be,” referring to maligned judicial nominees like Justice Thomas, Judge Bork and Judge Kavanaugh.
Privately, some conservatives were thrilled that Dr. Blasey and her lawyer have resisted the opportunity to testify in the Senate on Monday and demanded instead that the F.B.I. first investigate her claims. That would be just enough, they said, to give Republicans the justification for moving forward without her. The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, made clear on Wednesday that he would not postpone a hearing past Monday.
And once the Senate puts the Kavanaugh nomination on track for a final vote, barring any unforeseen disclosures, that sets up a fight that Republicans could win in the Senate but might ultimately lose at the ballot box in November. The level of outrage could run so hot among Democrats, who would likely use every procedural and political tool at their disposal to delay confirmation, that it could provide even more fuel to an already energized liberal base.
Some conservatives, however, seem happy to have that fight.
“Given the confirmation theatrics, followed by this allegation that was held until the last moment, this could be seen as another partisan attack and could actually fuel conservative turnout,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Conservatives are likely to use protests and other forms of resistance to Judge Kavanaugh as a way to clarify for unmotivated Republican voters what Democratic control of the Senate means: a Trump-nominated Supreme Court justice would never be confirmed again.
“If Chuck Schumer is majority leader and Dianne Feinstein is chairman of the Judiciary Committee,” said Mr. Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, “it will be open season on any Trump nominee to the federal bench at any level of the judiciary.”