“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” said professor and Stanford University psychologist Christine Blasey Ford. “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
On Sept. 27, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced the Senate Judiciary Committee and provided a statement about the accusations of sexual assault and harassment that have been brought against him.
But instead of making Kavanaugh address Ford’s accusations during his own testimony, Republican senators often used their allotted time to make statements in support of Kavanaugh or apologize to him for having to undergo scrutiny, delegitimizing and demeaning Ford’s accusations. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina even called the hearing an “unethical sham.”
The hearing wasn’t an “unethical sham” – but what resulted from it was a failure of democracy. Kavanaugh could be appointed to the highest court in the U.S., a position where he would be responsible for making decisions that will affect millions of people for the rest of his potential life term.
Kavanaugh was just days away from potentially being confirmed by the senate until Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s last-minute call for a week long FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh after Flake was confronted by two women in an elevator.
But the issue is not solely about whether Kavanaugh is guilty of the accusations against him. It is about the fact that in an 11-10 majority of Republican senators who voted – 100 percent of whom were men – chose party ties over due process.
In the U.S., more than 60 percent of sexual assaults nationwide are not reported to police. This number rises to 90 percent for college students, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The hashtags #WhyIDidntReport and #IBelieveHer trended nationwide after Ford came forward as the woman behind the anonymous letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
This hearing was a historic opportunity for the Republican Party to transcend partisanship and demonstrate that credible sexual assault allegations should be taken seriously.
Instead, in a society where the majority of sexual assault and rape victims are female, this flagrant indifference toward a credible witness sends a clear message to women across the nation who have been assaulted and are afraid to come forward: No matter how composed, rational and convincing you are, you will not be taken seriously.
As part of the next generation of voters and politicians, college women stand to impact the status quo for years to come. It is our responsibility to uphold the core tenets of democracy and ensure that our political parties represent what’s best for their constituents, not for the elite group of politicians that head them.