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SCOTUS Hearings Bring Deja Vu

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Penelope Lane, Contributing Writer

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The confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh are becoming reminiscent of those made 27 years ago for current Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas.

Anita Hill is a retired attorney, and currently works as a professor teaching social policy, law, and women’s studies  at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

In 1991, the Senate started confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice. The man in line was Clarence Thomas, a successful judge from Georgia. During these hearings, Hill eventually decided to speak publicly about the sexual harassment she endured at the hands of Thomas while working for him in previous years.

The FBI interview where Hill described these accounts was leaked to the public and Hill was called to testify at Thomas’s confirmation hearing. During Hill’s questioning, senators were aggressive with their questions, but Hill held strong and did not back down from her claims. Other women came forward, however only Hill was called to testify.

Although Hill was strong, she was unsuccessful in swaying the Senate, and Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Though this ordeal did not have a positive outcome, having Hill testify in front of the United States Senate and the whole world made waves in changing how sexual harassment is regarded. Women from all over the country were speaking up and calling for the end of it.

Fast forward to 2018, Brett Kavanaugh has just “survived” his confirmation hearings to be one of the next Supreme Court Justices. Kavanaugh is supposed to take the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy . However, a road block for Kavanaugh has arisen in the form of an attempted sexual assault claim. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology, is claiming that at a house party in the early 1980s, she was almost raped by Kavanaugh.​Kavanaugh and Thomas’ cases are similar in that both incidents  occurred years prior, but were never reported until their confirmation hearings. Both women wanted to stay private about this and wished to not go public but felt it was their civic duty to speak up.

Both women submitted reports and asked to be kept confidential, but both their identities were discovered by the press. The last similarity is that no one knows where this is going to go. When Anita Hill came forward and testified, people thought she was for sure going to stop the confirmation of Clarence Thomas, but that wasn’t the case. Now 27 years later, the same thing is happening, and people are worried that the allegations will be dismissed once again, and Brett Kavanaugh will be voted into the Supreme Court.

In the last year or so, the #MeToo movement has taken the world by storm, and increased everyone’s awareness of sexual harassment and assault on women and men, especially in the entertainment industry. Though it started out as a Twitter movement, it quickly became a social justice movement and has generated more talk about the importance of stopping these actions and behaviors.

Though this movement is important, and the topic has become pivotal in politics, this may not sway the Senate from voting yes to Kavanaugh. The Senate majority lies with the Republican party, and senators within that party have expressed opinions regarding sexual assault.

Some senators have even gone as far as to victim blame, or dismiss the idea of sexual assault all together. The Republican party is trying to gain as much political power as they can, and if that means electing a conservative and highly predictable judge to fill the seat, then they are more than likely going to ignore these allegations. With the Republican party  having the majority vote right now, it is very possible that the vote will swing in favor of Kavanaugh.

These sexual assault allegations are important to this case, because it draws a hard line in the sand for the Senate. They will need to hear both cases, and figure out who is telling the truth and who is not. Making a hard stance against Ford will be hard for some senators, because it could upset their constituents and pose a huge problem for them come re-election time.

For those that do side with Ford, they can receive the same effect if it comes out that she was lying or if they are in a Republican state that does not agree with their decision.

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SCOTUS Hearings Bring Deja Vu