There was a day when the thought of studying constitutional law was something that interested me. That day turned into thoughts of sitting on the bench of the highest court in the country, joining the ranks of Thurgood Marshall, Earl Warren and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
These individuals are some of the brightest minds in United States history, trusted to make fair and just decisions that would influence the lives of all Americans.
Brett Kavanaugh is now being considered to join this elite group of individuals who have the ability to impact millions of lives, including the lives of those he allegedly assaulted.
Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy, has been accused of sexual misconduct twice.
On Sunday, Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh’s, reported that he allegedly exposed himself to her during a party their freshman year. Ramirez told reporters at The New Yorker, “I remember a penis being in front of my face. I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”
This comes in the wake of allegations from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in high school. Dr. Ford will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the week of Sept. 24.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be dangerous to all, not to mention he could potentially be in the position to decide a woman’s rights over her own body.
Failing to listen to the brave women who have come forward to testify against Kavanaugh sends the message that their experiences are less meaningful than those of a man. From this, men will then learn there are no consequences to their dangerous behavior, and instead be characterized as uncontrollable aggressors.
But this message has already clearly been sent. Excuses, like Kavanaugh was, “too young to be held accountable to his actions,” have been perpetuated by the White House and various male Republican Senators. Trump has even added his voice to the chorus of victim blaming via Twitter.
Ford has already subjected herself to a polygraph test and submitted private records from counseling sessions in 2012, when she came forward to make her story publicly known. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, is trying to use a calendar from the summer of 1982 to prove his innocence.
The burden of proof rests largely on the shoulders of the victims, a reality that has not changed since Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991 and is all too familiar to college students.
The narrative of the vindictive victim is also all familiar in which it erases the courage required for victims to come forward, and negates the continual pain that follows those who speak out.
This normalization of abusers occurs in many workplaces, institutions of higher education and social groups. The reality of Dr. Ford and Ramirez are not unique and are experienced by far too many in the form of objectifying comments or violent acts.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, victims of sexual violence who wish to pursue a seat on the Supreme Court will have to sit with a man who committed such violent acts. However, women sit next to these people everyday. And one should not have to be considered for the Supreme Court to finally be held accountable.