Stop Kavanaugh Rally on October 6, 2018. (Wikipedia Commons)
A man who brags about sexual assault sits in the White House. Now a man who has been accused of attempted rape sits on the bench of our highest court. Margaret Atwood’s reality is looming over our heads, and it’s up to America’s citizens to stop it.
Brett Kavanaugh is a threat to women’s rights for coming decades. Kavanaugh wrote a memo in 2003 regarding Roe v Wade, questioning the decision: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
The juxtaposition to Christine Blasey Ford’s poised but painful testimony to Kavanaugh’s accusatory, angry, and misleading opening statement should have given the senators pause, but instead, the Republicans defensively doubled down when they saw that their candidate was faltering under questioning.
It is clear that Kavanaugh’s truthfulness is disputable. In his testimony, Kavanaugh affirmed he enjoys beer but never drank as many to blackout or blur memory. Multiple college classmates of Kavanaugh have debunked this claim. Chad Ludington, a former Yale classmate, recalls that Kavanaugh became “belligerent and aggressive” when drunk.
Kavanaugh undeniably lied about his yearbook page. When Democrats asked him to define the phrase “Devil’s Triangle,” Kavanaugh claimed it was a drinking game. The Devil’s Triangle is not a drinking game.
Kavanaugh has also proven he will not be a neutral judge on the Supreme Court. In his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he called the spread of the sexual assault allegations a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” from Democrats as reprisal after the 2016 election.
Lindsey Graham stepped in with a disgraceful display of orchestrated outrage over Kavanaugh’s treatment during the hearing. Jeff Flake stepped in as the voice of “reason” when the optics were growing worse for his party. He called for a limited FBI investigation to look into the charges against Kavanaugh. But it was a sham investigation used to give the Republicans cover to vote for this highly flawed nominee because the White House restricted its scope. Among those not interviewed by the FBI were Dr. Ford and the family and friends to whom she spoke, the former FBI agent who administered her polygraph test, Kavanaugh’s roommate and friends from Yale, and Kavanaugh himself.
Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin (WV-D) chose political survival and opportunism over the protection of America’s core values. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican senator to break from the GOP, choosing her country over her party. Susan Collins, who was expected to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, voted yes on the floor, but may not have only decided the fate for women’s reproductive rights.
Obergefell v. Hodges legalized gay marriage in the U.S., and its future has been called into question. Kavanaugh repeatedly swerved Senator Harris’ inquiry on whether he agrees with the Court’s 2015 decision. Senator Harris: “My question is very specific. Can you comment on your personal opinion on whether Obergefell was correctly decided? It’s a yes or no. Please.” Kavanaugh’s non-answer after Senator Harris reiterated the question four times only engendered fear for America’s LGBTQ citizens.
Citizens United will surely be upheld, which weakens a woman’s voice and elevates special interests. When Kavanaugh was a federal appeals judge, he ruled in favor and upheld political money laws and sided with Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Citizens United also released an ad supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court while slashing democrats. With big money in politics, a handful of people can control the outcome of our elections. Environmental protection is expected to be jeopardized, as well as immigration reform and affirmative action.
A woman cannot be truly free until she has control over her own body. The decision concerning whether a pregnancy should or should not be terminated must not be determined by a man who sits on the highest bench in an ivory tower (who has no idea what it is like to be a woman). I don’t believe the court will make wives the property of their husbands again, yet there are other cases looming in lower courts that could determine whether a woman has a right to control her reproductive health and in essence, her fate.
Some argue that Roe v. Wade will not be overturned because it is established law and the Supreme Court does not overturn precedents. This is historically false. The greater threat to Roe v. Wade is the gradual withering away of abortion rights, state by state. There are currently 22 states that would adopt measures to impede reproductive rights. These laws are challenged in the lower courts but will likely be ignored by this Supreme Court.
Access to abortion would be denied even for victims of rape and incest. Women with ectopic pregnancies would be at risk. Medical decisions concerning a woman’s body should not be made in a courtroom. These decisions should be made privately by a woman and her doctor.
Overturning reproductive rights is life-threatening, unwanted and dangerous for America. Abortion is considered one of the safest medical procedures. It ensures the autonomy and life of a woman. According to the National Abortion Federation, “97% of women obtaining surgical abortion before 13 weeks report no complications; 2.5% have minor complications that can be handled at the medical office or abortion facility; and less than 0.5% have more serious complications that require some additional surgical procedure and/or hospitalization.”
Laws against abortion were not proposed until the mid mid-nineteenth century. From this period to 1973, before the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, it is estimated that up to 1.2 million illegal feticides were performed each year. One in five deaths due to pregnancy were caused by botched terminations in 1965. Without the right to a medical abortion, thousands of women suffered serious medical issues or death as a result of self-induced abortions. Our country must not return to the dark days of back alley abortions.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Many other women and I live in a world where we are in constant fear. I enjoy going on runs in my neighborhood, but my mother does not allow this unless I carry mace. She hates it when I answer the door for take-out when I am home alone. She persistently tracks my sisters on their college campuses using “Find my Friends,” just to make sure they got to their dorms safely. I regularly see movies with my older sisters, but we often avoid later showtimes so we do not have to walk in the mall’s parking lots alone. Sexual assault is not an issue that just affects women. This August, over 1,000 children have accused Pennsylvania priests of sexual abuse. Every citizen needs to weigh the repercussions of this nomination heavily.
A man has been elevated to the Supreme Court who endangers the freedom and dignity of American women. While speaking at a rally in Mississippi, the President of the United States mocked the validity of Dr. Ford’s testimony: “How did you get home?’ ‘I don’t remember.’ How’d you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know.’ He continued, as the crowd roared with laughter, “What neighborhood was it in? ‘I don’t know.’ Where’s the house? ‘I don’t know.’ Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? ‘I don’t know, but I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.’ “
What message does this send to young women in the United States? It tells us to shut up. It tells us to be very careful before we accuse a male of sexual harassment or assault.
Don’t let this bullying tactic silence you. Call. Protest. Vote. And most importantly, keep on persisting.
A new generation of young women is rising from the ashes of this firestorm, and we will not turn our backs to victims of sexual assault.