Dramatic developments have occurred since the first allegations were made against Brett Kavanaugh. Ford and Kavanaugh’s hearing took place, respectively, on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Whereas Ford’s opening statement and testimony were calm and composed, Kavanaugh opened with an aggressive diatribe that Ford’s accusations of him were part of a large left-wing conspiracy theory against the Republicans. Ford was polite and welcomed all of the committee’s questions, answering them warmly and patiently. Kavanaugh continued to be combative throughout his testimony; often interrupting the senators and challenging them with their own questions.
Here’s an example of how Kavanaugh threw some of the democratic senators’ questions back to them, showing a deep disrespect for the judicial procedure:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota asked Kavanaugh if he had ever drunk to the point of losing memory.
“You’re asking about — blackout?” Kavanaugh responded. “I don’t know, have you?” Kavanaugh responded.
“Could you answer the question, judge —that’s not happened? Is that your answer?” Klobuchar asked.
“Yeah, and I’m curious if you have,” Kavanaugh told Klobuchar.
“I have no drinking problem, judge,” Klobuchar responded.
“Nor do I,” Kavanaugh said.
On Friday, the day after the hearing, the situation intensified. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a key swing vote in Kavanaugh’s confirmation, issued a statement that he would vote for Kavanaugh.
Later in the day, Flake was confronted by two sexual assault victims in an elevator.
“I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me,” one of the victims said to Flake through tears. “Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”
Flake did something huge when he returned to the room of the hearing: he told the committee that he’d vote to advance Kavanaugh on Friday, but he requested a week-long FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
Flake said that he would not vote yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation if they did not conduct the FBI investigation.
At least one of the Republican senators has a conscience after all.
No one knows what the FBI’s one-week investigation will uncover. But the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court is much less certain than in was even one week ago.
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to be a Supreme Court judge has been thrown into question after research psychologist and professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in the early 1980s, when she was 15. Last Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote amid Ford’s allegations. However, it’s still uncertain whether or not Judge Kavanaugh will end up on the Supreme Court, since rich white men in positions of power rarely face the consequences of their past actions.
It’s a situation that is sad but all too familiar; when the victim of sexual assault is doubted, discredited and the allegations are brushed aside. The typical power dynamic of sexual assault cases often positions the perpetrator as the victim. In this case, it is Ford who has faced numerous anonymous death threats for coming forward with her story.
Here is a recap of Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh:
- In mid-September, Ford publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. She decided to go public with her allegations after realizing that his name was on the shortlist of potential Supreme Court judge nominees.
- Ford’s allegation:
- In the summer of 1982 when Ford was 15 years old, she attended a house party in Montgomery County. Kavanaugh and another male friend—both students at Georgetown Preparatory School––were at the party.
- At one point during the party, Ford went upstairs to use the bathroom. Before she could reach it, she was pushed into a bedroom and onto a bed. Kavanaugh, who was extremely incapacitated from alcohol, held Ford down and attempted to take her one-piece bathing suit off from underneath her clothes.
- Ford said she began to scream for help, but Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth.
- Kavanaugh’s friend stood by the door the entire time and watched, laughing.
- At one point, the friend jumped on top of both Kavanaugh and Ford and toppled them, which allowed Ford the ability to run from the room.
- Ford locked herself in the bathroom upstairs and waited until she thought she heard Kavanaugh and his friend go downstairs. She then fled the house.
- Ford was affected by this event for many years afterward, claiming that it took a toll on her ability to have romantic relationships with men.
- In 2012, a therapist’s notes from a session Ford attended with her husband stated that Ford talked about the high school sexual assault.
- Kavanaugh has completely denied the accusations of sexual assault. His nomination has been delayed and his confirmation is uncertain.
- Ford agreed to testify against Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday.
If Ford’s allegations weren’t enough, additional information regarding Kavanaugh’s college life has recently come to light. He was a member of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, DKE, at Yale University. DKE has had a reputation of misogyny at the university. A photograph from the Yale Daily News on Jan. 18, 1985, when Kavanaugh was already an initiated member of the fraternity, shows a DKE pledge waving a flag of women’s underwear on the campus. In 2011, Yale University banned DKE for 5 years after members of the fraternity chanted, “No means yes, yes means anal,” outside of the Yale Women’s Center.
Kavanaugh was also a member of the all-male university organization called Truth and Courage, also nicknamed the “Tit and Clit” club.
Will all of this information be enough to prevent Kavanaugh from becoming the newest Supreme Court judge? One would hope so, but in the reality of the society we live in, where the perpetrator’s word is most often taken over the victim’s in cases of sexual assault, the evidence and claims against Kavanaugh might not be enough.
This isn’t the only high-profile case of sexual assault that we’ve seen in recent years. In 2015, Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The victim read her statement in court at the trial in 2016: “My breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it,” the victim wrote.
At the trial, Turner admitted to ingesting alcohol as his only crime.
Turner was sentenced to six months in jail, but only ended up serving three.
While the allegations are different, the implications are still the same. Kavanaugh, like Turner, are both men who faced sexual assault accusations at a young age. They were both intoxicated the night of their alleged crimes. They are both white, wealthy, and held positions of power at the time they faced these accusations; one, a prestigious judge and the other, an Ivy League athlete.
It’s comforting to think that Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh will show the public that a man without a moral compass is surely not fit to serve the highest-ranking court in the country (and a president with multiple sexual assault allegations against him isn’t fit to lead the country either). Still, based on how sexual assault cases have been handled in the past, it’s possible he may never face justice.
If the Senate Judiciary Committee deems Ford’s allegations to be true, maybe Kavanaugh will face the consequences of his past actions.
Or maybe he won’t.
Maybe he’ll become the newest Supreme Court justice and pass judgement on what is right and what is wrong, when it’s unclear whether he knows the difference himself.
But it’s nice to be optimistic that there will be justice, because being a drunken asshole in high school—even if you’re young, white, rich, privileged, and male—is not an excuse for sexually assaulting someone.