A woman wearing a black veil, holding her hands up, protests the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as photographers with long-lens cameras take her photo.
We Believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and We Still Believe Anita Hill.

[Featured image: A woman wearing a black veil protests Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination as photographers take her picture. Via Phil Roeder/Flickr/Creative Commons.]

From Dena Robinson, J.D., If/When/How Board President

Dena Robinson, a smiling, brown-skinned woman with short braided hair
Dena Robinson

If/When/How believes Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and we still believe Anita Hill. We demand an immediate end to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process, because it is clear that he has neither the character nor judgment that all Americans must require in a candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States.

We refuse to accept that it is inevitable that this country will have not one, but two, men sitting on its highest court who’ve been accused of sexual harassment or violence. This is a terrifying and unacceptable prospect. But we want to broaden the conversation, because our commitment to reproductive justice demands it. The hostility directed at Dr. Ford — who has been forced to abandon her home due to death threats — not only exposes our deep societal misogyny, but lays bare the racist double standards ingrained in white supremacy and our cultural construction of victimhood.

It is not lost on us that Kavanaugh’s supporters use his age at the time that he assaulted Dr. Ford as an excuse to avoid holding him accountable, when we live in a country that has held black and brown folks, and especially young trans people of color, responsible for their actions at the tender ages of between 13 and 17 years old. These young people were not targeted for committing acts of violence, but for being victims of violence. “But he was just a kid” is not an acceptable reason for excusing teenage Brett Kavanaugh’s actions while at the same time suggesting that Michael Brown, 18, was “no angel,” or that Tamir Rice, 12, posed a threat on a playground, or that Vontashia Bell, 18, deserved to be deadnamed and misgendered in reports of her death. Remember, this is also the same country that, in the past, has held 13-year-olds “accountable” for crimes that they were wrongly accused of committing. In this country, 14 years old is old enough to go to prison for decades — what then is the excuse for not holding Kavanaugh accountable for his actions at such a young age?

We have had nearly 30 years to learn from the harm done to Anita Hill, a black woman, who is part of a group of women who, because of their race have historically always been thrown under the bus — and yet, it seems little has changed. We know what a Kavanaugh appointment would mean in terms of rulings from the bench — he will rule with or to the right of the court’s most conservative justices. But we also know what a Kavanaugh confirmation will mean in terms of the cultural health of this country: It will mean that, in three decades, we have remained unwilling to believe survivors, unwilling to confront racist double standards, and unwilling to move forward in ensuring that the most powerful positions in government are filled by people who represent the progress and promise of a true democracy, and not by the same, interchangeable handful of elite men from elite institutions. At the very least, we must set the bar high enough that, if we must seat elite men from elite institutions in every corner of the capital, let them be elite men from elite institutions that come to the job free of allegations of sexual violence.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, one third of the men sitting on the Supreme Court will have been accused of sexual misconduct. That is not what justice and accountability look like.

The law is only one avenue through which the social and cultural changes necessary to end white supremacist patriarchy can happen, but it is a powerful one. As lawyers and law students who are passionately invested in making reproductive justice a reality for all, we demand progress.