On October 6th, the US Senate Judiciary committee voted to elect Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the US Supreme Court. The appointment of Kavanaugh is one of the most contentious that the US has seen in over twenty years. Kavanaugh was always going to have a tough ride to the Supreme Court due to his strong conservative ideas on social issues such as LGBTQ rights and abortion rights, but his candidacy became particularly contentious when a woman from his past came forward with accusations of sexual assault.
On the 12th of September, rumours began to circulate that there were accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, dating back to his high school years. Within a few days the story dominated the US media. Dr Ford, his accuser, went public with her story with an article in the Washington Post. Days later, another woman came forward with a story accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct. Soon after Dr Ford was summoned to a public hearing where she recalled to the Senate Judiciary committee the night when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her.
Dr Christine Blasey Ford is an American professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr Ford initially come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh in the summer of 1982 in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr Ford’s testimony gripped national and international attention and drew on the growing #MeToo movement, a movement against sexual harassment and assault, which has swept America in the past year. The professor’s testimony proved to be just as powerful as it started a new movement, #WhyIDidntReport, with victims of sexual assault, harassment and rape giving reasons as to why they never told anyone of their attack. Actresses Ashley Judd and Daryl Hannah were two of the thousands of people to use the hashtag.
This movement came into the public sphere after President Trump published a Tweet asking why Dr Ford did not come forward with the allegation of assault back in 1982. The President’s tweet stated that “if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
After Judge Kavanaugh and Dr Ford gave their emotional testimonies, the committee was called to vote on whether or not to extend the Senate vote. It appeared as though Judge Kavanaugh was to sail through to a seat on the highest court in the land until two civilians corned Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator, pleading with him to stall Kavanaugh’s nomination. The protestors cries were seemingly heard as the Senate voted for a week-long FBI investigation into the accusations against Kavanugh before voting on his nomination.
Despite the efforts of many, the Senate voted Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme on October 6th. The aftermath of this nomination has left the United States even more polarised. This was one of the most contentious SCOTUS nominations since the appointment of Judge Clarence Thomas in 1991. But the US has changed since 1991. Instead of dusting the problem under the rug, the #MeToo movement has galvanised support and sparked national protest, with women from all across the country participating. The #MeToo movement has ignited a spark within protestors across the country demanding that their representatives take action. The #MeToo movement is no longer a cultural protest that will be remembered as a brief and short moment in history. If the past several weeks have shown anything, it is that #MeToo is here to stay and is here to enable change.
Image courtesy of R4vi at Flickr