An ugly history repeated itself when a woman stood before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 to testify that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, said in her testimony that in 1982, Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her at a party in Maryland when they were both teenagers.
According to Ford, Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her, ground against her, and tried to pull off her clothes, and covered her mouth when she tried to scream.
Ford said she was afraid Kavanaugh “might inadvertently kill me” during the attack.
Much like a woman before her, Ford was met with character attacks and accusations of being an agent for the left, acting on behalf of partisan politics.
Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator from South Carolina, said after Ford’s testimony that the Democrats were operating an “unethical sham.”
“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win the presidency in 2020. You said that! Not me,” Graham said to the Democrats during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Boy, y’all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham,” he continued.
Twenty-seven years ago, another woman stood before then an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee to testify that a Supreme Court justice nominee had sexually harassed her.
While Anita Hill and Justice Clarence Thomas are African-American, and Ford and Kavanaugh are White, the same gender and power politics left both women shunned and invalidated as both men went on to be confirmed onto the high court.
While former senators, including Joe Biden, from the time of Hill’s testimony have since expressed regret, nothing has changed as Ford faced an eerily similar fate as her predecessor.
Hill’s complaint against Thomas came when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the U.S. Department of Education in 1982.
Hill alleged that Thomas would discuss at work pornography, make reference to his anatomy, and other sexually suggestive comments.
Like Ford, Hill’s testimony was met with resentment from powerful players in Washington such as Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch from Utah, who implied that Hill was part of the Democrats’ “strategy.”
“Hill was working in tandem with slick lawyers and interest groups bent on destroying Thomas’ chances to join the court,” Hatch notably said.
Aside from being accused of false sexual assault allegations in the name of the Democratic party, Hill and Ford share many parallels.
They both are professors and by many standards successful women—they have expressed that they have nothing to gain politically, socially or otherwise in telling their truth to the American people.
To then and now, Hill and Ford have support from women and women politicians around the country who showed up in Washington to back them.
D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton supported Hill in 1991, and she showed her unwavering support for Ford in 2018.
In late September, Rep. Norton and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) hosted a news conference to support Ford and the other women, including Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, who came forward to tell their stories about Kavanaugh.
Norton said Republicans have learned few lessons since she and six of her women colleagues in the House walked over to the Senate to demand a hearing for Anita Hill.
“Senate Republicans appear to have learned only the two most obvious lessons from the Anita Hill controversy,” Norton said. “First, women members of Congress did not have to walk over to the Senate to get a hearing, as seven of us did in 1991. Second, Republicans have learned to avoid the optics of all-male interrogators on their side.”
Even with Hill’s testimony of her harassment by Thomas, the Senate confirmed him 52-48.
In 2018, after multiple sexual assault allegations by different women, history repeated itself when the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh 51-49.
“Today’s vote to confirm Kavanaugh failed Anita Hill, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and all survivors of sexual abuse, but this fight is far from over,” said Aimee Allison, president of Democracy in Color and founder of She the People.
“Those behind the vote are not reflecting the will of the people, and we will work in November and in 2020 to vote them out,” she added.