The biggest test of the #MeToo movement: a Supreme Court nominee

The #MeToo movement is about believing a woman when she says that she has been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, or raped by a man who is in a position of power:

After The New York Times published an explosive report in October 2017 detailing decades of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, dozens of women came forward with their own accusations against the Hollywood mogul. Within a week Weinstein had been fired from his company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Now, in a post-Weinstein world, legions of women have felt empowered to speak out and share their own #MeToo stories—both on social media and in news outlets. The reports against the powerful producer sparked an avalanche of accusations against high-profile men in media, politics, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood, all with varying degrees of repercussions.

Here, a list of the high-profile men who have been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and/or misconduct since the Weinstein story broke, which we’ll keep updating as new allegations surface. Post-Wtneinstein, These Are the Powerful Men Facing Sexual Harassment Allegations.

The stakes just got a lot higher for the #MeToo movement.

“Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.” California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault:

Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.

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Christine Blasey Ford contacted The Post through a tip line in early July, when it had become clear that Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of possible nominees to replace retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy but before Trump announced his name publicly. A registered Democrat who has made small contributions to political organizations, she contacted her congresswoman, Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, around the same time. In late July, she sent a letter via Eshoo’s office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

In the letter, which was read to The Post, Ford described the incident and said she expected her story to be kept confidential. She signed the letter as Christine Blasey, the name she uses professionally.

Though Ford had contacted The Post, she declined to speak on the record for weeks as she grappled with concerns about what going public would mean for her and her family — and what she said was her duty as a citizen to tell the story.

She engaged Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases. On the advice of Katz, who said she believed Ford would be attacked as a liar if she came forward, Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August. The results, which Katz provided to The Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.

By late August, Ford had decided not to come forward, calculating that doing so would upend her life and probably would not affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” she said.

Her story leaked anyway.

* * *

As the story snowballed, Ford said, she heard people repeating inaccuracies about her and, with the visits from reporters, felt her privacy being chipped away. Her calculation changed.

“These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid,” she said, explaining her decision to come forward. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”

Katz said she believes Feinstein honored Ford’s request to keep her allegation confidential, but “regrettably others did not.”

“Victims must have the right to decide whether to come forward, especially in a political environment that is as ruthless as this one,” Katz said. “She will now face vicious attacks by those who support this nominee.”

The Post goes into more detail.

This case is remarkably similar to what happened to Anita Hill after the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991.U.S.

Back them senators took the position of “it’s her word against his, and we choose to believe him” because he is the nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The question now is whether the recent #MeToo movement has changed this calculus in any way. Anita Hill’s claims echo in allegation against Kavanaugh. Three decades later, will anything be different?

Nearly three decades later, as the Senate prepares to vote on another Supreme Court nomination, a contest is taking shape with clear parallels to the controversy that pitted the word of Thomas against that of Hill. An allegation of sexual assault has surfaced against Brett M. Kavanaugh, a nominee put forward by President Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual misconduct. All three Republicans — Thomas, Kavanaugh and Trump, who are dissimilar in background and temperament — deny the accusations.

A year into the #MeToo movement, the dispute over Kavanaugh’s nomination could test how the culture wars have evolved and what the country has learned since 1991, whose convulsive events helped give 1992 its label as the “Year of the Woman.”

For an excellent summary of the Anita Hill hearings and the parallels to the current allegation of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh, see Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post, How Little Has Changed Since Anita Hill Spoke Out Against Clarence Thomas.

Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.), Republicans who are retiring at the end of this term, joined Democrats in urging a delay in the vote until the committee hears from Ford. The panel is scheduled to vote Thursday afternoon on Kavanaugh’s nomination. GOP senators: Hold off on Kavanaugh vote until accuser is heard:

In an interview with The Post, Flake said that Ford “must be heard” before a committee vote.

“I’ve made it clear that I’m not comfortable moving ahead with the vote on Thursday if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further,” said Flake, who is one of the committee’s 21 members. Republicans hold an 11-to-10 majority on the panel, and Flake’s opposition to a vote could stall the nomination.

Flake would not specify what form the communication with Ford should take or how he would vote. But he emphasized the significance of the allegations.

“For me, we can’t vote until we hear more,” he said.

In a statement, Corker said a delay “would be best for all involved, including the nominee. If she does want to be heard, she should do so promptly.”

Sen. Jeff Flake holds the keys to a Supreme Court confirmation Trump prizes dearly — and could soon yank them away. Flake’s revenge? Trump antagonist holds power over Supreme Court pick:

Flake flashed a yellow light Sunday night on Brett Kavanaugh’s high court bid, telling POLITICO that he won’t support advancing the nomination this week if fellow senators don’t do more to hear out a woman accusing the nominee of sexual assault more than three decades ago. Opposition from the Arizona Republican wouldn’t doom Kavanaugh outright, but it already has ratcheted up political pressure on a GOP struggling to keep Trump’s Supreme Court nominee from a full implosion.

Flake, unlike Corker, sits on the Judiciary Committee. A “no” vote from him on the narrowly divided panel would force Republicans to bring Kavanaugh to the floor with a negative recommendation, or without a committee vote at all, in order to keep the nomination on track.

* * *

“I think it’s too soon to tell, but Flake is the one man with the leverage to do this,” GOP strategist and vocal Trump antagonist Rick Wilson said. “With the one-vote margin on the committee, Jeff Flake has the power to stop Kavanaugh, and to humiliate Trump. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as the philosopher once said.”

* * *

How far Flake takes the issue, then, is the biggest question as Trump’s high court pick enters a make-or-break week. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is already working to set up a time for senators to hear from Ford, as well as Kavanaugh one more time.

I believe that there will have to be a hearing, just as there was in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Christine Blasey Ford will get her chance to tell her story, and her credibility and character will be attacked by the GOP members of the Senate judiciary committee, just as Anita Hill was attacked: Sens. Chuck Grassley (chair), Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake, Mike Crapo, Thom Tillis and John Kennedy.

I expect Lindsey Graham to play the role of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who was the designated Republican attack dog in defending Clarence Thomas. Teabaggers Ted Cruz and Mike Lee no doubt will do the same. Orrin Hatch will reprise his role in the Clarence Thomas hearings expressing righteous indignation about the honor of this good man being impugned by this woman. Anti-Trump senators Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse are wild cards, as may be John Kennedy, who sometimes surprises.

Unlike during the Anita Hill hearing in 1991, an all-male spectacle, there are several accomplished women serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Democratic side: Sens. Dianne Feinstein (ranking minority member) who was elected in the “year of the woman” in 1992 as a result of the Anita Hill hearing, Amy Klobuchar, Mazie Horono, and Kamala Harris. Other Democratic members are Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Christopher Coons, Richard Blumenthal, and Cory Booker.

Buckle up, this is going to be a wild ride this week.





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4 responses to “The biggest test of the #MeToo movement: a Supreme Court nominee

  1. For Sure Not Tom

    Here’s an actual Brett Kavanaugh speech, where he reminisces fondly about being black out drunk.

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/09/brett-kavanaugh-gave-a-speech-about-binge-drinking-in-law-school/

    I can relate to partying in my youth, and for a good while longer, but I never forced myself on anyone, and I’m not in line for a lifetime appointment where I’ll be deciding women’s issues.

  2. For Sure Not Tom

    Uh-oh! 200 women who went to school with Dr. Ford are taking her side, saying many of them are survivors themselves.

    Not only should Kavanaugh not be confirmed, he should be impeached from his current bench for lying.

    The only SCOTUS pick that should be approved is Merrick Garland.

  3. For Sure Not Tom

    Wow! Brett Kavanaugh clerked for Alex Kozinski and claimed he never saw Kozinski do anything nasty.

    Look up Judge Alex Kozinsky and then ask yourself if Kavanaugh’s denial makes any sense at all.

    Kozinski is the post boy for sexual harassment in the workplace.

    How exactly did the GOP think they were going to get this garbage person approved?

  4. For Sure Not Tom

    Look up Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s pal, he’s been deleting his social media posts because even though he’s old, he likes his ladies young.

    He’s the stereotype of a right wing conservative pervert.