This has been a rough week for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s credibility and most of all for Professor Christine Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh as well as their families.
As someone who understands all too well what it is to not share your experience around sex assault, sexual abuse, or date rape, I have always believed Professor Ford’s allegations. The problem is, I wanted to believe Judge Kavanaugh too, and I realize after really reflecting, and reading literally hundreds of stories woman have shared on Twitter and Facebook under the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag, that I cannot believe them both. I must choose one.
This is aside from my feelings about how the Senate Democrats once again handled a Supreme Court Justice nomination terribly, in my opinion, there should be ethics charges brought to bear on Senator Feinstein and her staff for withholding this information. Her duty was not to Professor Ford. Her duty was to the oath she took to the U.S. Constitution and her specific role to “advise and consent” on U.S. Supreme Court nominees. She had a duty to tell her colleagues in private, or at the very least Chairman Grassley. And then they could have called in the FBI quietly to investigate the charges, and question both Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. That is how this should have worked.
Unfortunately, the genie is out of the bottle. And it’s not going back in.
Speaking as a lifelong moderate, Republican woman, this is over. Ed Whelan’s tweet storm trying to name another man as the possible assaulter of Dr. Ford was a tipping point for me, and many others. Clearly, Whelan, a GOP operative, knew about Ford before her name was made public. Many of us supported Kavanaugh, because of his reputation and character as a family man, great husband, and devoted mentor of his female law clerks. But, Kavanaugh cannot serve on the high court with credibility now. This is not 1991, this is 2018 and a whole lot has changed on how we see sexual assault, and how we treat victims of such assault. More importantly, the #MeToo movement is not going to sit passively by and allow another man credibly accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault of a woman get voted onto the court without some hell to pay.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his “we will just plow right through” rhetoric has been tone deaf and crude. Senator Orin Hatch’s comment that even if Brett Kavanaugh “raped” professor Ford when she was 15 and he was 17 he would have a hard time keeping him off the court is reprehensible.
I was on the fence about all of this when the allegations first broke, because I did not like the tactics of Senate Democrats in how they leaked this after days of hearings when Kavanaugh was under oath and could have been questioned and pressed on this issue privately and publicly if need be. Instead, we have Thomas-Hill redux, and I will forever remember the horror I felt as a young black female law student seeing the way Professor Hill was treated by some of the very same Republican Senators that we see in charge of this process in 2018.
Here’s the thing: I think our nation is losing. I think we have gone down a political rabbit hole that we may never return from. We hate our opponents now. We don’t just disagree. We can’t lose agreeably. We must destroy their reputation. We must dig up dirt. We must hurt their families, and put them in danger even, just to prove that we are right. This is not healthy for a democracy. This is not good for a nation that, once upon a time, was made up of optimists.
America has fallen. Judge Kavanaugh may not have been your cup of tea or mine. He may in fact be the vote that could roll back Roe v. Wade. Or he could end up being another Justice Lewis Powell, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, or Justice Anthony Kennedy. I suspect we will never know, because I think that public sympathy will keep moving toward Ford and Kavanaugh will be remembered as the man who attempted to rape a high school classmate at age 17.
For me, Kavanaugh is too damaged in the eye of at least many Americans in a way no Supreme Court nominee has been, including Thomas.
This is a new day, but the GOP seems stuck in a past century. Their side of the Senate Judiciary committee has never had a woman sit on it in its 202-year history. The Democrats have had five, with four of them on the committee today. The GOP is the old, white, angry boys club. They don’t get it.