-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

viewpoint

The Supreme Court: A bench of sexual abusers

| Wednesday, September 26, 2018

It seems as though we all just teleported back to 1991. An accusation treated with no sense of severity and respect, but with a sheer partisan will. A testimony destined to be undercut and a sexual abuser seemingly destined to be confirmed.

Many would think that we would learn from our mistakes. Perhaps, we would understand now that rushing a confirmation hearing does not give an allegation of sexual abuse or harassment the time and consideration that it deserves. We might have realized that it takes not only time, but an independent investigation to gain true clarity on an allegation as severe as that of sexual misconduct.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has been placed in a position almost identical to Anita Hill when she exposed Justice Clarence Thomas’ long history of sexual harassment.

Anita Hill was forced to negotiate for her right to testify. Anita Hill’s witnesses who could back up her claims were not allowed to testify. Anita Hill was only questioned by partisan politicians with the sheer goal of placing a Republican on the Supreme Court bench.

The rush of Dr. Ford’s testimony is a complete disrespect to the severity of her claims and has a clear and obvious partisan motive: to push this nomination through before the midterms. While former President Obama apparently did not have the right to appoint a new Supreme Court justice since he had “only” a year left in office, President Trump and Senate Republicans have a right to rush another nomination before a pivotal midterm election. Examining Dr. Ford’s allegations in relation to this motive, it should be clear what should take precedent. Unfortunately, it seems that the Republican leadership does not agree with me.

However, it has become clear that Dr. Ford is not alone in her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. More women have felt compelled and empowered to come forward and share their experiences as well. Deborah Ramirez says that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party at Yale their freshman year. Additionally, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford, claimed via Twitter that he has a client who also experienced sexual assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh, and the claims are very intense.

You might think that this would be cause enough for our president to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination, or for Kavanaugh to withdraw himself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Rather, Kavanaugh has taken it upon himself to appear on national television to deny these claims. Rather than waiting for both sides to have their day of testimony, he has taken it upon himself to appear on a stage undoubtedly friendly to him: an interview with Martha MacCallum. Is this the character we want in a Supreme Court justice? Someone who runs to a partisan outlet to defend himself against multiple allegations rather than allowing our political process to run its proper course?

Rather than allow equal testimony under oath, our potential future Supreme Court justice decided to give Fox and Friends an advertising opportunity, and give himself the opportunity to deny these allegations under the friendliest possible circumstances.

That’s not what I want in my Supreme Court justice.

I have little hope left for these confirmation hearings. It seems impossible that fairly listening to and considering survivor testimony will drive the hearings, rather than partisan and personal motive.

Obviously, I was naive, but I thought we had improved. I saw #MeToo and thought that maybe, just maybe, our elected officials would care and pay attention. I hoped that survivors would get a fair chance and the respect that all human persons deserve. And I thought that the accused would maybe treat the allegations against them with the seriousness that they deserve.

But I was wrong.

It’s 1991 all over again.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , ,

About Jackie O'Brien

Contact Jackie