Two men accused of violence against women – one of harassment and one of sexual assault – are now Justices on the United States Supreme Court. For many of us, the month of September brought back painful memories of watching Anita Hill testify against Clarence Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. The bitter scenario that played out this time only reminded women that hard work to shift power in our government still remains.
The Trump Administration’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy was a long-time Republican political operative and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Brett Kavanaugh.
As his name passed from a longer list to the short list of candidates to fill the seat, a woman now living in California named Christine Blasey Ford who had attended school in Montgomery County, Maryland at the same time as Brett Kavanaugh had a huge, life-changing decision to make. She had been deeply scarred when they were both teenagers by Kavanaugh who she believed sexually attacked her at a party and attempted to rape her. Should she irrevocably change her life by making the incident public, or stay silent?
Amid the circus of this appointment, given that any Administration appointment was certain to seat a solid conservative majority on the court that would be seated for at least several decades, Ford’s attempts to notify various Members of Congress did not reach daylight until shortly before the Judiciary Committee was to vote Kavanaugh’s nomination out for a confirmation vote in the Senate. After some days of political turmoil, the Republicans in control of the committee and Dr. Ford finally agreed to a hearing on September 27 at which only Ford and Kavanaugh would testify.
Ford’s testimony was strong, calm, and quite convincing. Kavanaugh, in sharp contrast, adopted a confrontation, partisan tone which in every way to even casual observers spoke to the fact that he was – for many reasons – unfit to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. He was ultimately confirmed by the second closest Senate vote for a confirmation of to the highest court in the country in our history.
It is small comfort to read through the lengthy listing of groups and prominent individuals opposed to his nomination and confirmation. As of this writing it is unclear how this highly controversial process and its outcome will affect the Midterm elections on November 6. For many women, this only adds to over two years of insults and verbal assaults on women from countless Republicans starting with the President of the United States. As the old saying goes, “Don’t get mad, get even.”