A Full Investigation Is Needed Into the Sexual Assault Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh

Over the weekend, details of serious charges of sexual assault alleged to have been committed by Judge Brett Kavanaugh became public, as did the name of the woman raising these allegations. In a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and in an interview with The Washington Post, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford described an incident in high school when she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party. 

Judge Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” he said in a statement on Monday.

These allegations, like all allegations of sexual misconduct, deserve to be taken seriously.  

Initially, Dr. Ford did not want her story to become public. She was afraid that doing so would “upend her life.” This is the reality women face within a culture that too often vilifies people who come forward. Already, she has reportedly received threatening emails and is the subject of vicious online trolls, cruel tweets, and mocking Instagram posts, including one by Donald Trump Jr. But according to her lawyer, Debra Katz, “She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth.”

It is critical that a confirmation vote be delayed until a thorough and transparent investigation can be conducted, including a hearing at which both Ford and Kavanaugh have an opportunity to testify under oath. The Senate cannot move forward with this lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land without considering the results of a fair, non-partisan, and complete process. If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, he could sit on the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. This confirmation process is the only process he will ever go through. Now is the time for the allegations to be investigated and testimony to be heard.

This moment is eerily reminiscent of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in October 1991, in which Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her when they worked together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She, too, was reluctant to come forward with the allegations and only did so after her name was leaked to the media. As we know all too well, her life was indeed upended. During the hearings, the all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee members tore her to shreds. Sen. Arlen Specter accused her of perjury. Sen. John Danforth called her mental health into question, suggesting she might have “erotomania,” a delusion that someone more powerful is in love with her. Sen. Alan Simpson remarked, “I’ve got statements from Tulsa saying: Watch out for this woman.” 

Although at times distressing to watch, the Thomas hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee played a pivotal role in awakening the public to the prevalence of sexual harassment, even at the highest echelons of power. That Hill’s allegations ultimately did not stop Thomas’s appointment to the court was a bitter pill to swallow, then and now. Yet, that outcome does not negate the value of her testimony. 

We are at a similar crossroads now as the Senate Judiciary Committee considers how to proceed in light of Dr. Ford’s allegations. We should understand more now, 27 years later, about the ways sexual assault and harassment cause lifelong harm — personally and professionally. We also are one year into the #MeToo movement, an explosion of anger and truth-telling about the ways sexual misconduct continues to shape women’s lives.

Dr. Ford may have been forced into the limelight against her will, just as Anita Hill was, but the treatment she receives should be different. She must be questioned fairly, not belittled or dismissed. As Ronald Klain, counsel to the Judiciary Committee during the Thomas hearings, has suggested, it may make sense to have trained lawyers lead the questioning, rather than leaving it to the politicians. But a fair process in which both sides are fully heard is in everyone’s interest — including, most importantly, the country’s, given the stakes.

It’s up to the Senate Judiciary Committee to get it right this time around.

View comments (28)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

What a farce. This women "demands an FBI investigation" before she'll testify ?? I thought she'd do anything to get her story out ?? What happened ?? The FBI has no obligation to investigate this supposed crime from 30+ year's ago as the statue of limitations is long gone. In fact, unless the President tasks the FBI to investigate, they can not on their own. This women can't remember when the party took place, where the party took place, who was at the party, what the party was for, whose house it was at, just to name a few questions that she needs to answer to have any kind of credibility. This is ridiculous. If this was such a traumatic experience, she'd have alot more recollection than the vague facts she states. This is nothing more than a complete ruise by the left to push the nomination back until after the midterms when they feel they'll be in power. It wouldn't have mattered who Trump nominated this same scenario, or another similar scenario, would have "suddenly" come about last minute. It's nothing more than a "hail Mary" by the out of power Democrats.

Anonymous

Trauma can cause weird memory glitches. That being said, if someone is traumatized to the point that it is causing weird memory glitches then their memory isn't reliable - especially if its a "repressed memory". Lots of people have been falsely accused because of false memories. If she truly believes that she was sexually assaulted then I empathize with her but we can't let people's lives get destroyed based on shaky allegations without any evidence.

Anonymous

There was nothing demeaning, racist, or profane in my comment. I even cited the source of the information I used. Where is my comment?

Anonymous

My comment, which I backed up with EVIDENCE, was that a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote an article stating that he took advantage of a drunk girl, while in high school, at about the same time as Ford alleges Kavanaugh assaulted her. If an unsubstantiated allegation can lose you a seat on the Supreme Court then shouldn't a confession get you kicked off the Judiciary Committee? Here is my proof. The article is available from the archives of the paper it was published in for free on the internet. The article was published on 19 February 1992 in the Sanford Daily and is titled "So Much for Stealing Second Base". If you are actually trying to keep people who took advantage of a drunk girl, while in high school, out of important positions then you have no reason not to let this comment post. If you don't post it because you like the Senator who wrote the article then you are a partisan hack and a hypocrite.

Anonymous

The accuser has some evidence in terms of therapists notes and witnesses who said she told them about this long ago.
The Senate Judiciary has an investigator who has declared bias. Mitch McConnell has declared Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court regardless. Conservative activist Ed Whelan had access to Dr Ford's name before it was public and spun a doppleganger theory.
Dr Ford passed a lie detector test and is willing to subject her story to FBI scrutiny - which could put her in jail if she is lying.
Kavanaugh has not volunteered to take a lie detector test and has not welcomed the FBI looking into this.
Kavanaugh and his buddy alleged to have been in the room with him, Mark Judge, have some related history on this behavior in their yearbook, writings, Yale Frat, Georgetown Prep culture, etc.
This man is a candidate for the Supreme court and as such, his character should be close to pristine.
Given Kavanaugh appears to have already lied about torture, Judge Pickering, stolen Democrat emails, OSHA, $200,000 in credit card debt, judge Kozinski’s behavior, etc.

An investigation and much more scrutiny is warranted or the man should withdraw.

Boston jack

Professor Blasey of Palo Alto University and Stanford just happens to be a liberal Democrat and claims a sexual assault happened at a party in the early 80’s. She doesn’t know the date of the party or the location, how she got there or how she got home and her only evidence is her memory. Judge Kavanaugh and a witness as well as 65 women who have known Judge Kavanaugh since high school say Professor Blasey is wrong. Anyone can ruin a person’s reputation. The Duke lacrosse rape scandal comes to mind.

Anonymous

I love how the aclu keeps calling themselves non partisan but use leftist race baiting language ("all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee members ") to try to give credibility to an alleged story that the FBI investigated and found nothing. The fact of the matter is that Dr. Ford has provided vague details of an incident with no witnesses and now want to pretend that it's the FBI's job to investigate state crimes. Unless Dr. Ford provides further evidence of judge Kavanaugh's involvement, this vote is going to proceed whether democrats (the aclu) like it or not.

Anonymous

The burden of proof lies on Dr. Ford and unless she can bring new evidence during her testimony next week to tie judge Kavanaugh to an assault, no amount of protesting or screaming is going to stop the senate judiciary committee from proceeding with the vote. End of story.

AnonymouS

It's not a criminal case, there is no burden of proof. No evidence is required by her. She is there to describe her experience with Kavanaugh's predatory nature when he was a man-child in the 1980s. From my experience in the 80s, parties I went to included adolescent behavior combined with heavy beer drinking -- but didn't include accosting girls for thrills. Maybe because I went to a boy/girl school, and whatever happened between us kids was going to carry on through gossip in the next days in class, so there would be repercussions if somebody did something really bad. We sought coupling, and sharing time with each other as boyfriend and girlfriend; handling break-ups, and moving on when it's decided that it wasn't a good fit.

I gotta ask the question, because it's just so obvious. Do most or all of these man-children have racoon eyes? What's up with both Trump and Kavanaugh who have those face tans that leave white circles around their eyes? It looks goofy, but Trump's orange complexion takes it to a new level.

Anonymous

The real issue here is does this woman's allegation establish a pattern of behavior of aggression and of dishonesty? There is a level of aggression and dis-compassion shown in this act. However, to then deny his participation and boldly lie about it shows a level of dishonesty and lack of accountability that this country doesn't need in our supreme court judges.

Pages

Stay Informed