Sexual assault allegations were made against recently-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It is apparent that claims surrounding sexual misconduct within politics are becoming a recurring nightmare. News reports are too similar to each other, as privileged men deny mistreating women to save their seat and their political party. We allow abusers to have control. We allow them to represent our country. We sit and watch our president mock Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and Senate members praise and defend abusers: Will we ever learn that sexual assault is not acceptable for anyone, at any time?
On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh is an attorney with a degree in American History at Yale University and has served for 15 years in prestigious positions on lower courts. When the news broke surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination, Ford accused Kavanaugh of what she stated as a “rape attempt” back in the 1980s, when the two were in high school. Ford stated that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge took advantage of her at a party. Kavanaugh denied the allegations and demanded a hearing the next day.
This was not the only accusation against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez stated that Kavanaugh had engaged in sexual misconduct at parties while the two were in college. Kavanaugh denied these claims as well.
To combat Ford’s claims, Kavanaugh released his paper calendar from the summer of 1982. The calendar was organized, listing dates of parties and hanging out with friends, using nicknames and slang terms. Numerous classmates came forward claiming that Kavanaugh and his friends would drug drinks at these parties to take advantage of women — a claim Kavanaugh also denied.
The incident surrounding Kavanaugh is nothing new; sexual misconduct has been committed by many other politicians.
President Trump had numerous claims from women saying he had sexually harassed and assaulted them, from unwanted comments and touching to unnecessary dressing room visits while he was in charge of the Miss America Pageant. The reports against Trump evoked an extreme public response and made visible the issue of sexual assault within politics. A new push to reveal these activities was emerging; as movements like #MeToo became an outlet to come forward about personal experiences with sexual assault, many also came forward about being assaulted by famous celebrities and politicians who had previously seemed protected. When Ford became aware of Kavanaugh’s possible power — a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court — she knew she needed to come out with her story.
Ford told the story to her husband, Russell Ford, back in 2012 while the two were attending marriage therapy. Ford’s husband recalled her mentioning Judge Kavanaugh being at the party where the incident occurred. Ford took action to prove her story was true. She did a polygraph in early August, and it revealed that she had been telling the truth. It wasn’t until Sept. 16 that The Washington Post published an article detailing Ford’s story, a story whose accuser had been unknown before Ford revealed Kavanaugh.
Senators were willing to delay the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination once reports of the victim coming forward surfaced. Kavanaugh denied the claims and gained support from the White House. He demanded a hearing to clear his and his family’s name.
Senators wanted to hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh to decide whether to vote Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court. Ford gained support leading to her testimony and was praised for her bravery. Ford was not just telling her own story, she was representing women around the world.
“I am here today not because I want to be,” Ford said. “I am terrified.”
Many compared Ford’s bravery to that of Anita Hill’s. Hill testified against Judge Clarence Thomas in 1991, accusing him of sexual misconduct in their workplace. Hill was eventually denied justice by the Senate Judiciary Court, which consisted of all-white, all-male members. Her treatment during, and the outcome after the hearing inspired women across the country to run for state and national office.
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Ford spoke with passion during the hearing, but many Republican Senate members continued to insist on Kavanaugh’s innocence or at least downplayed the impact and consequences of his possible actions. Senator Lindsey Graham gained public attention for his extreme reaction to Kavanaugh’s accusation during the hearing, stating that Kavanaugh had “gone through hell” and “that he is just as much as a victim as she is.”
With the Senate Committee still undecided, a further investigation conducted by the FBI was ordered. Surprisingly, President Trump, a man who tends to criticize the FBI, gave the FBI the okay to investigate deeper into Kavanaugh and the allegations but then severely limited the scope and timeline of the investigation. The vote was delayed a week to allow the detailed investigation, but the drama did not slow down.
As many continued to support Kavanaugh and his denial of the accusations, many more continued to support Ford. The #IBelieveChristine movement swarmed media platforms, demanding Kavanaugh be stopped. Lots of people hoped the support for Ford would sway members of the Senate, but many were staying with Kavanaugh, no matter what.
The support for Kavanaugh was inappropriately demonstrated by President Trump, who mocked Ford at a political rally for not remembering certain details of the high school party. Trump wasn’t phased by the extremely immature and rude comments he made against a victim of sexual assault and continued bashing the Democratic Party, who he believed was trying to make the accusation against Kavanaugh a partisan issue.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, with a 50–48 vote — the lowest amount of votes in support of any nominee ever — the decision was finalized: Kavanaugh was the new Supreme Court Justice.
The scary truth of the situation is the position is served for life — or until the Justice himself decides to retire. Kavanaugh displayed a lack of control over his emotions during his hearing: crying, yelling, acting extremely defensive while talking about his friends, his calendar and his questionable activities, and blaming Liberals for putting him in this position. Members of the Supreme Court are expected to be mentally stable and make decisions with non-partisan ideas, something Kavanaugh showed no sign of.
Kavanaugh is a supporter of Trump, who has proposed multiple unconstitutional changes to the policies of the United States. Members of the Court are supposed to approach decisions with an unbiased mindset, and Kavanaugh’s antics seem unfitting to match those expectations.
The Senate failed to treat the situation involving Kavanaugh correctly, and the result of their decision will affect the United States and all of us for many years to come. Hopefully, the members who voted for Kavanaugh will regret their decision and realize the mistake they’ve made — and think and act differently the next time.
Ford’s bravery will be recognized eternally, and hopefully, when this incident is looked back on, people will feel even more strongly about the injustice that occurred. Unfortunately, the message this Supreme Court confirmation sends to victims is that those in power do not believe or support you. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please call the Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.