Kavanaugh Hearing: A Giant Step Backwards

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford took the stand on Friday, Sept. 28 to testify against Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Ford recounted her sexual assault perpetrated by Kavanaugh and Mark Judge at a party in the 1980s and how the trauma has followed her throughout her life. Although she had tried coming to terms with her assault by seeking therapy and confiding in friends and her husband, Ford felt it was necessary to come forward in light of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” Dr. Ford stated. “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

In July 2018, Ford reached out to the Washington Post’s anonymous tip line upon finding out Kavanaugh was on the short list for nominees for Supreme Court Justice. She reached out to her representative in California, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, with information on the assault to prevent the acceleration of Kavanaugh’s nomination. She decided it was important to share this information with the American public in September, once Kavanaugh was officially chosen as the nominee.

Ford had avoided the life-altering experience of going public with her story for as long as possible, and told The Post she feared suffering the annihilation may not even matter. Many of the 321,500 victims of rape or sexual assault per year in America share this sentiment; the fear of being invalidated, ignored and oppressed after coming forward as a survivor of sexual abuse. 

According to RAINN only 310 out of every 1,000 rapes are even reported and only 57 of those reports lead to arrest. Of those arrests, 11 cases will be referred to prosecutors with seven resulting in a felony conviction and six in incarceration; this means that out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. To punish, mock and threaten the brave individuals who decide to come forward does nothing to help the victims, and prevents others from seeking justice after their entirely unwanted and inexcusable trauma.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held this hearing ultimately to determine if the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination will go to the full senate floor and to evaluate his qualifications. 

While experience and background are important aspects for the senate to analyze when voting in a Supreme Court Justice, character is also essential. Honesty, level-headedness and non-partisanship are the pillars a Supreme Court Justice must stand on in order to take on the task of interpreting our constitution for life.

Kavanaugh failed to display these qualities in this hearing which sparked an uproar on both sides of the bipartisan coin as both Republican and Democratic senators rapidly began to decide the future of his nomination.

Dishonesty and evasion permeated as he refused a polygraph test and lied under oath on the definitions of phrases such as “boofing” and “Devil’s Triangle” found in his yearbook, claiming they were about drinking, when they are in fact sexual expletives, as confirmed by his former classmates.

Additionally, Kavanaugh avoided answering questions directly asked to him by senators about his drinking habits. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., for example, asked if his drinking ever caused him to be unable to remember events, to which he responded, “You’re asking about blackout. I don’t know, have you?”

Kavanaugh has been a Federal Appeals court judge since his appointment by Bush in 2003. His appointment to this level of the judiciary was stalled for three years, according to CNN, due to his overly partisan nature.

During his hearing, he openly spoke about his partisanship. His desire to overturn Roe v. Wade shows that his interest does not lie with women, as he works toward reducing their right to choose what happens to their bodies. His response to the sexual assault allegations made against him are angry and defensive and he evades being properly investigated or answering truthfully and directly. The possession and control of women’s bodies seems to be an important part of his political and personal scheme as he fights against women’s rights.

We at The New Paltz Oracle believe that Kavanaugh does not exhibit the pillars necessary to be appointed to serve in the highest court in America. Furthermore, we are disgusted at our government’s continued failure to address the rape culture that permeates our society.

Democratic senators were furious at the lack of foresight evident in the rushed decisions of the Republicans, as well as the general disregard for Ford’s testimony. Republican senators however continued to shoot down her testimony as false and politically motivated. Ford, on the other hand, described her testimony as an act of personal and professional suicide that has ultimately turned her life upside down. 

The Senate Committee’s rushed decision on Kavanaugh’s appointment indicates where Republican loyalties lie–not with women, but, rather, with political capital. The legislative branch of our government is mainly Republican. The executive branch of government sits a Republican president. Appointing Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice seat will pack the final branch of the government to be majority Republican as well.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, turned the hearing on its head with his vote’s caveat, in his stating that a week-long FBI investigation must take place in order for him to vote yes on moving Kavanaugh to the next phase of his Supreme Court Justice nomination. This decision, while brave, was not enough.

Hollywood has held more people accountable for sexual assault than our own government, as has the world of athletics. Yet, the trials of Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar somehow are not enough to influence the investigation of similar accusations against our country’s potential leaders. 

If we continue to push potentially abusive men towards power, more survivors like Ford and Anita Hill will continue to be ignored and blamed for their trauma, silenced by the powerful men above them. 

To confirm Kavanaugh will place him in a life-long position, where he will interpret the most important documents of our nation and further create our supreme laws. A man who has several sexual assault allegations against him, and partisan biases that he openly lets cloud his judgment, should not be appointed to serve on the highest court in America.

It remains a very scary time to be a woman of any age or status in America, as their experiences and testimonies of sexual harassment, abuse and assault are viewed as untimely inconveniences to the political agendas, elections and images of these “poor men” who “should not have their lives ruined,” for their atrocities against women.

We at The Oracle believe Ford and applaud her patriotism. We will continue to stand with those brave enough to come forward and seek justice in a society where perpetrators of sexual harassment, abuse and violence walk free. We admire and support the continued fight against these gross injustices across our country.