Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing: Is history repeating itself?

September 19, 2018
Written by Clare Mounteer, Executive Director

I remember being transfixed by the televised Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. I also remember being appalled by the insensitive questions directed towards Anita Hill and thinking how brave she was, how composed and how credible. We later learned that other women came forward with similar stories during those hearings but were denied the opportunity to testify and lend further credibility to her story. Subsequently, Judge Thomas was confirmed. For life.


While only Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford know what happened over 30 years ago when they were teenagers, her story is strikingly similar to that of so many survivors whose stories I have heard over the last 30 years. It goes like this: people go to a party. Alcohol is flowing. A man who has had too much to drink becomes sexually aggressive towards a woman -- and occasionally, towards another man. Sometimes the man is too drunk to do more than grope the victim and sometimes she is raped. Often she doesn’t tell anyone. She is ashamed, embarrassed and fearful that nobody will believe her, or that they would tell her it was her fault. Sometimes she gets help. Sometimes it takes years to get help. But she doesn’t forget what happened. The man goes on with his life.


Anita Hill was one of the first women to speak up publicly, and at great personal risk, about sexual harassment at the hands of a powerful and ambitious man. In the last year, the Me Too Movement has compelled many women to speak up about sexual mistreatment at the hands of powerful men because, finally, they are being heard and believed. It turns out that the powerful men who lost their jobs victimized multiple people.  


Now another woman has come forward at great personal risk to share that she was sexually assaulted at the hands of another powerful and ambitious man. Before the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirm another lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court they would do well to slow down, examine the facts, and allow Dr. Blasey Ford to be heard in a sensitive and dignified manner. Or they can reject this nominee so that another candidate with a solid history of treating people with respect can be nominated.