It has been 27 years since then President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to be associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. The culture of the time in the Senate as they pondered approval was denial and failure to recognize the character defect of this nominee.
Now, again 27 years later, the ugly spectrum of sexual character defect raises its head as President Trump nominates and the Senate considers another approval of the presidential nominee to the Supreme Court. Has the culture changed? Are the cases different?
The first argument that I heard against Ford coming forward was that it didn’t make sense since this alleged incident happened back in high school when she was 15 and Brett kavanaugh was 17. Normally, I would tend to agree with that argument, but for the fact that when we are dealing with the appointment of a Supreme Court nominee the bar is considerably higher. For one thing, that appointment is for life, so life’s actions, good and bad should be considered.
It might be helpful, however, to review what the similarities and differences are between the Ford case and the Anita Hill case of the Thomas hearings are. The Senate Judiciary Committee, today is no more prepared to handle a hearing seeking the truth of this matter than it was 27 years ago. Not much has changed. It is still a political stacking committee for whichever party is in control to make federal judges follow the political dogma of the ruling party.
That being said, we know, today, from the Catholic Church experience and from the Bill Cosby episodes that matters of sexual predation and sexual assault are long simmering. As we have seen from these experiences, it takes a long time for either a boy or a girl to gather the courage to say what their truth is and to go up against a man with power and fortune.
What is the truth, here? Who knows? Is there any way to know? It is clear that Ford’s accusation could not stand the required tests of a criminal case at this late juncture of coming forward. But this is not a criminal case. It is a Senate Committee’s responsibility to determine the character and qualification of a nominee to sit on the highest court and make decisions that control and influence the lives of every American.
Georgetown Law’s Emma Coleman Jordan and Susan Deller Ross, two of the attorneys who represented Anita Hill 27 years ago give some insight as to what is different about the Hill case from this, the Ford case:
Ross: “I think this seems different in many ways. In the case of Thomas, there was a lot of corroborating evidence for Hill but [the committee] deliberately kept it out. There doesn’t sound like there’s much corroborating evidence for Ford, except her own recollections and interactions with her therapist and husband, but this accusation was made well before there was any thought of [Kavanaugh] being named to the Supreme Court.”
Jordan: “There are other people Anita told at the time and they testified. What I understand of Dr. Ford’s, she was a teenager and did not tell anyone. She was afraid to tell her parents because she had had a beer and wasn’t supposed to be drinking. The lack of the contemporaneous reports are different, and fully understandable but that is a difference.”
It is clear from what we know so far, that Ford did not want to come forward. Anyone who witnessed what Anita Hill went through would know that it is personally devastating to go through with such an accusation in such a polarized political environment. Unless it really happened to you, why would you go through such a process? For political reasons only? That seems a reach beyond reason. Because you are well educated and you see another national judicial catastrophe like the Clarence Thomas event occurring? I don’t know. Perhaps one looking for reason should simply make a what-if assumption. What if Ford’s allegation of this sexual assault is true? If taking into consideration the age of Kavanaugh at the time, all that he has done since that time, including his opinions affecting women’s rights, should such an action disqualify him from being a Supreme court Justice?
What do you think?
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