Sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court is one of the highest honors granted to a legal professional. With this role comes a tremendous responsibility to uphold justice and set a precedent for laws based on a constitutional standard without bias. The American people should ideally have the utmost trust in a nominated official, as their vote will decide laws that can affect a citizen’s life. So what happens when an official is accused of sexual assault?

Brett Kavanaugh, who President Donald Trump nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, was recently accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The accusation came just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee's September 20 vote where they'll decide whether to confirm Kavanaugh. The controversy dramatically mirrors the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Professor Anita Hill accused Justice Thomas of sexual assault nearly thirty years ago, and in a Tuesday essay for The New York Times, she expressed concerns about the committee’s handling of her testimony and how Kavanaugh's confirmation gives them another opportunity to keep an alleged sexual predator away from the Supreme Court. 

“In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court,” Hill wrote. “It failed on both accounts.”

“That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement,” Hill continued. 

After accusations became public, some senators suggested the committee hold off on the nomination to hear Ford’s testimony, while others continued to push for an official vote on Thursday. Although it has officially been postponed to await Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimonies scheduled for next Monday, as reported by Politico, Hill has a few words of advice for the committee:

  1. “Refrain from pitting the public interest in confronting sexual harassment against the need for a fair confirmation hearing. Our interest in the integrity of the Supreme Court and in eliminating sexual misconduct, especially in our public institutions, are entirely compatible.”
  2. “Select a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases that will investigate the incident in question and present its findings to the committee.”
  3. “Do not rush these hearings. Doing so would not only signal that sexual assault accusations are not important – hastily appraising this situation would very likely lead to facts being overlooked that are necessary for the Senate and the public to evaluate.”
  4. “Refer to Christine Blasey Ford by her name. She was once anonymous, but no longer is. Dr. Blasey is not simply ‘Judge Kavanaugh’s accuser.’ Dr. Blasey is a human being with a life of her own. She deserves the respect of being addressed and treated as a whole person.”

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