Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh delivered emotional testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, regarding Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago.
Tensions were high between Kavanaugh and senators, both Democrat and Republican, during the hearing, which is part of his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process.
This past summer, Ford wrote a letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in which she outlined how Kavanaugh assaulted her over three decades ago during their time as high school students in suburban Maryland.
“The details of that night — that bring me here today — have been seared into my memory, and (they have) haunted me episodically as an adult,” Ford recalled before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Kavanaugh upheld his rejection of Ford’s allegations during Thursday’s hearing.
“This has destroyed my family and my good name,” Kavanaugh said on Thursday. He said there is a “frenzy on the left” to block his confirmation.
As the hearing came to a close Thursday evening, the Ole Miss history department hosted a Gender History Pop-Up in Bishop Hall featuring a discussion centered around the hearings and other topics like the #MeToo movement.
“How didn’t (these allegations) come up?” Susan Stearns, an assistant professor of history, asked the room. “People go through extensive FBI background checks to be rugby coaches. How did a potential Supreme Court justice not have this come up?”
Shennette Garrett-Scott, assistant professor of history and African-American Studies, discussed the possible implications of investigations into allegations of sexual assault at Thursday night’s pop-up.
“These investigations can be exploitative,” Garrett-Scott said. “Like Anita Hill, today Dr. Ford was being grilled by senators, trying to prove her story. The truth is (that) people we are entrusting to find justice for these victims are often, in fact, exploiting them, as the system in place is really a structure of power that protects people.”
Many students at the event said they believe the current generation is effecting change and that, hopefully, the outrage from the #MeToo movement, Weinstein case and Kavanaugh allegations will change not only the way women speak up about sexual violence but also how well society listens.
Two more women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have recently come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh. As a result, the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee asked President Trump on Wednesday to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination. In return, Kavanaugh agreed to testify at yesterday’s hearing.
Cole Durrett, a senior classics and English double major and member of College Democrats, expressed his disgust with Kavanaugh and disappointment with the justice system.
“I was not surprised at the allegations themselves, and I was even less surprised that many are standing by him,” Durrett recalled. “The subject of sexual assault is a very touchy subject for me, and I’ve quickly become very disappointed in how quick we are to brush off allegations as ‘women trying to get famous.’”
Jacob Keller, a senior accounting major who describes himself as a moderate conservative, agrees with Durrett’s sentiments.
“I don’t believe the women are lying, but I wonder if we can judge a person’s character by actions that were committed decades ago,” Keller said. “Can we assume that people never change? I would say that if we (were to) investigate the past lives of every member of Congress to this degree, there would be several (members) who would not hold up to scrutiny.”
“That being said,” Keller noted, “I think that Dr. Ford’s testimony should be strongly considered by the committee.”
President Donald Trump restated his support for Kavanaugh in a tweet Thursday night.
“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” Trump tweeted. “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate on Friday.