I remember a time when the headlines were all about The New Power of Women in Politics. In fact, as shown above, I wrote a book with that title, published in 1994. The book featured Congresswomen like Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Representative Maxine Waters, all of whom are still in office. Since the 1990s, women have continued to gain political power, surging in terms of elections to local, state, and federal government offices.
However, overall I have doubts about the political power of women during the pending hearings between Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee for SCOTUS, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor in California. I am not at all confident that Ford will be fairly heard and seen when they both testify under oath at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday, September 24.
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of being drunk at a house party when they were teenagers (more than three decades ago), and forcing her onto a bed, groping and trying to disrobe her, and clamping his hand over her mouth so she could not call for help. Ford’s story was published in the Washington Post. She subsequently took a lie detector test that verified the truth of her accusation and voluntarily made the decision to appear before a Senate panel regarding the assault, which Kavanaugh and his supporters have vehemently denied.
Nevertheless Brett Kavanaugh’s past shows that he has been an obvious “obstructionist” in a previous court case regarding sexual assault that resulted in a pregnancy. Kavanaugh was on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 when a pregnant teenager, an illegal immigrant who was held in federal custody, sought an abortion. The seventeen-year old had been raped and had received permission from a Texas judge who determined that she was sufficiently mature to make the abortion decision. But, instead, the girl was taken to a Christian crisis pregnancy center. Kavanaugh denied the teen immediate access to an abortion, requiring her to find a guardian to approve her choice. Kavanaugh kept up his denial until it was almost too late for a legal abortion. Volunteers helped pay for legal bills to appeal the girl’s case. The appeal was successful. And the teenager had an abortion the next day.
In the past and in the present, Kavanaugh has shown little regard for women’s rights and freedom of choice. And I doubt that the Republican men on the present judiciary committee will see Ford in a favorable light.
I can well remember when Republicans held hearings regarding SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas decades ago. For hours, the all-white male members of the panel questioned Professor Anita Hill who had convincingly accused Thomas of sexually harassing her while she worked for him in the 1980s. Most people watching and listening to the hearing on TV could hardly mistake the caustic tone of voice and antagonistic manner of some senators who clearly indicated that they believed Hill was lying. Thomas himself accused Hill of deceit and said that Congress was conducting a “high-tech lynching of a black man.” As is well known, Thomas became a High Court Justice—for life.
I hope the Thomas-Hill hearing will NOT be repeated next week. In short, like Professor Hill’s accusations, Ford’s sexual assault charges may not be believed. “Which means that if Republicans confirm Kavanaugh, the highest court in the land will be a living symbol that the law does not treat women as full citizens.” So wrote Jonathan Bernstein, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, on September 17, 2018.