The Kavanaugh Confirmation – What We’ve Learned, and What’s Next

By Murray Andrews 

In the past few weeks, a series of political moves has rocked the nation, and culminated in an event with consequences that will span decades. After weeks of misogyny and survivor-blaming, a week-long FBI investigation, and partisan politics, Senate Republicans confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh in a 50-48 vote, despite multiple claims of sexual violence and sexual harassment. As a result, Kavanaugh will shift the bench of the Supreme Court towards a conservative majority, which has massive implications many judicial issues. Perhaps most importantly, Kavanaugh’s addition to the bench may result in an overturning of Roe v. Wade, which would be the largest reversal of women’s rights in recent history.

This process of confirmation has drawn sharp comparisons to the confirmation of Clarence Thomas in 1991, during which he was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, who worked under him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Just as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did, Hill sat in front of a group of senators, detailed her trauma, and endured attacks on her character, just to watch as her perpetrator ascended to the highest office that an American judge can hold. Thomas, the longest-serving judge on the Supreme Court, will now be joined on the bench by Kavanaugh, and together they will make decisions on women’s rights that will impact generations of women.

The prevalence of false allegations of sexual assault is minimal, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, yet much of the rhetoric surrounding this confirmation process has centered around false allegations, painting men as victims of the current state of sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention. As this mode of thought pervades throughout our society, belief in survivors will diminish, survivors will come forward less, and perpetrators of sexual violence and sexual harassment will continue to commit these crimes without consequence. Breaking this mindset will take a generation of policy change, education, and cultural change.

While these events have represented a large setback in the movement for women’s rights, they have also created an environment with the potential to be a springboard for further change. In the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, outrage has motivated millions to register to vote, with the upcoming midterm elections being pivotal for control of the House of Representatives. Furthermore, the confirmation has pushed conversations about privilege, misogyny, sexual violence, and rape culture, on to college campuses, possibly motivating a new generation of leaders to influence change. For change to occur, we must talk about this, we must vote on this, and we must teach our children extensively about sexual violence and sexual harassment.

If you haven’t registered to vote, you can do so at https://registertovote.ca.gov/