By: Connor McNairn, Columnist
Few positions in American government are comparable in weight and circumstance to a United States Supreme Court seat. Members on the Court are given lifetime appointments and are not subjected to reelection campaigns like most other prominent policy-makers. In essence, the court of public opinion does not strongly influence the outcome of Supreme Court justice nominations; the only hope for decency, then, when a Supreme Court nominee is credibly accused of sexual assault and attempted rape, is that members of the Senate – the body tasked with confirming a justice – will vote down the nominee. But given that the current Senate is led by Republican operatives who suffer from moral and ethical bankruptcy, such an outcome is unlikely in light of recent allegations surrounding Judge Kavanaugh.
Last week, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University in California, detailed that over 30 years ago, Trump’s current Supreme Court nominee attempted to rape her at a high school party in Montgomery County, Maryland. After first writing an anonymous letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who then sent the letter to the FBI, Dr. Ford was publicly outed as the author without her consent.
Dr. Ford first mentioned the assault to her therapist in 2012, and has since passed a lie detector test administered by a former FBI agent, during which she described the events of the night in question.
Since coming forward, Dr. Ford has faced a barrage of criticism from the right, most predominantly from Republican leadership in the Senate. Following Ford’s accusations, Senator Lindsey Graham argued that the Democrats have been executing a “drive by shooting” of Kavanaugh. What is more, Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (the body charged with overseeing the preliminary testimonies of Supreme Court nominees), immediately released a letter signed by 65 women who purport that Kavanaugh is a decent and honorable man, as though his not being accused by 65 individuals somehow erases the fact that he was still credibly accused by Dr. Ford.
It is also worth noting that Dr. Ford has received numerous death threats and has had to physically relocate in order to protect herself and her family.
After all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to delay Kavanaugh’s hearing following Dr. Ford’s coming forward, only one Republican – Senator Jeff Flake – concurred with the plan for delay.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at a Value Voters Summit, during which he claimed that Republicans would “plow right through” with Kavanaugh’s nomination, in spite of Ford’s story.
It is evident that Republicans in government have failed to take seriously the allegations of Dr. Ford. It is now incumbent on the citizens of the United States to consider a crucial question: will there be no electoral consequences in November for Republicans who have so blatantly disregarded a victim of sexual violence?
Dr. Ford achieves no personal gain by coming forward, which is evidenced by her attempted anonymity. She has since faced a plethora of threats, as Republicans in the Senate have tied themselves to a sinking Kavanaugh nomination.
Regardless the outcome of Kavanaugh’s hearing, the Republican Party has repeatedly proved itself incapable of placing humanity and decency over its own political agenda. The President, after all, has been credibly accused of sexual assault over a dozen times, and even admitted to it on a tape that was released to the world just before the 2016 election.
If, in a democracy, our elected officials are both unwilling to and incapable of defending victims of sexual violence, voters must.