Just a few days ago, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice seemed inevitable, but now, amid allegations of sexual assault, his chances are not quite so certain. Professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in the 1980s. She claims they were both intoxicated, and Kavanaugh forced himself on her and attempted to rape her as a friend watched. Initially, she released an anonymous statement, but ultimately, she decided to tell her story herself. She told the Washington Post that she felt that her civic duty outweighs the fear she feels. Kavanaugh has responded to the allegations, and has called them “completely false.” Kavanaugh has agreed to testify in the upcoming hearing, but, as of September 18, Ford had not yet responded as to whether or not she would be testifying. Republicans are also concerned about what this controversy means with midterm elections coming up.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing was set for September 20, but now with these accusations surfacing, this date has been pushed back, and both Kavanaugh and Ford are set to testify in a public hearing on September 24. Like Kavanaugh himself, the judge’s supporters, including President Trump, have defended against these allegations. Trump opposes the involvement of the FBI in this investigation, stating that it is “not really their thing.” Some have even gone so far as to say that these accusations are just an attempt by the left to thwart Kavanaugh’s confirmation. However, Ford points to notes taken by her therapist in 2012 and 2013 that document her claims, which existed years before Kavanaugh was being considered as a Supreme Court Justice. Those who are quick to blame Ford and write off these allegations as a calculating political move are just another of many examples of the rampant tendency disregard to the accounts of victims. When a prominent figure in society is accused of wrongdoing, supporters are quick to come to their aid, often attacking the accuser. This tendency only further shows why it is important to hold public figures accountable for their misdeeds, especially those as damaging and heinous as sexual assault.
Many have compared these recent accusations to Anita Hill’s 1991 claim that Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually assaulted her a decade earlier. Like Kavanaugh, Thomas denied these allegations. Hopefully, in the past decades, the social environment has changed enough that Ford will be treated with more respect than Hill was. As Hill states in a New York Times editorial, “There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better.” It is important that both sides of these accusations are heard, and no judgment should be passed on either party until all the facts are procured. Unfortunately, too many times in the past, this has not been the case, and the accounts of victims have been all but ignored.
These accusations serve as a reminder of the widespread culture of sexual assault and misconduct in our nation, especially with the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. It is vital that we as citizens hold our politicians to higher standards than we currently are. If these allegations are proven true in Kavanaugh’s hearing, he should not be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. When those who have power in the United States have shown a propensity for taking agency away from women and behaving abusively, it is unacceptable that they should be able to maintain their positions.