“Is This the Country that American Women Must Live In?”

Published: September 21, 2018

By Jim Lichtman
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At the 1991 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, law professor and former co-worker of Thomas, Anita Hill, gave graphic testimony regarding allegations of sexual harassment.

As reported by CBS News (Sept.19), here’s some of what Hill had to sit through.

Republican Senator Arlen Specter: “You testified this morning that the most embarrassing question involved — this is not too bad — women’s large breasts. That is a word we use all the time. That was the most embarrassing aspect of what Judge Thomas had said to you.”

“…Hatch,” The New York Times reported (Oct. 13, 1991), … invited listeners to consider the idea that [Hill] had worked with ‘slick lawyers’ from liberal interest groups to concoct her story…

“Senator Hatch also suggested that Professor Hill’s account of how Judge Thomas… once remarked to her that someone had put a pubic hair on his can of Coke could have been inspired by a scene in the 1971 novel, The Exorcist. In that scene a character complains of pubic hair in his glass of gin.”

Why would any woman want to sit through anything like that?

Here are just a few of the experiences other women shared in Letters to the Editor at The New York Times, (Sept. 19):

“When I was young (I am 72), the kind of behavior that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is accused of was not at all uncommon. If you were attacked, you didn’t tell anyone — not your parents, not your teachers, not your girlfriends, no one. You internalized the experience and moved on with your life. You believed the old saw that ‘boys will be boys’ and that somehow you bore the full responsibility of what had happened to you. …” – Miriam Pickett, Highland, N.Y.

“I was sexually assaulted as a young woman. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of her experience rings true for me.

“I never called the police, although I felt certain that I knew who attacked me. I told only one close friend at the time, and it was years before I told anyone else. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents. I felt frightened, embarrassed and ashamed; I just wanted to put it behind me.

“So, there is no record of what happened to me. It happened, nonetheless. Dr. Blasey deserves a chance to be heard and believed, no matter when the events took place.” – Carol Nuetzman Weber, Oceanside, N.Y.

“I was a victim of the East Dallas rapist in 1985. I can still remember vividly every awful detail. I have seen a therapist every two weeks since then. So, I have no doubt that Christine Blasey Ford can remember, too.” – Beth Ellyn Rosenthal, Las Vegas

“…Is this the country that American women must live in? Have we learned nothing? Have our leaders learned nothing?”  — Victoria Hochberg, Hollywood

How many millions more women are sitting in silence? How many more have to suffer through the humiliation of political leaders who not only don’t understand but are unwilling to apply basic common sense to allegations of abuse?

In the matter of Dr. Blasey Ford, Amy Ryan Alexander from Washington offers the best solution:

“If the Federal Bureau of Investigation won’t reopen the background investigation, the Senate Judiciary Committee should hire two prominent former Supreme Court clerks — one Republican, one Democrat — with experience in criminal investigations to conduct the investigation. There are several lawyers who fit the bill.

“This would ensure a timely, nonpartisan investigation conducted by people who value the integrity of the court. The committee should issue subpoenas where both investigators deem it necessary. Then, the lead investigators should conduct questioning of witnesses in an open hearing of the Judiciary Committee, sparing Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh from serving as political punching bags.”

Can we expect Senate Republicans to push aside political agenda and do the right thing?

When President Obama had 11 months left to serve, Sen. Mitch McConnell argued that, “The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the court’s direction.”

In August 2016, at the annual Fancy Farm picnic in Kentucky, McConnell said, “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.’ ”

In a letter to President Obama regarding McConnell’s position, historians and legal scholars wrote, in part:

“We write to you as scholars of American history, politics, and the law. We express our dismay at the unprecedented breach of norms by the Senate majority in refusing to consider a nomination for the Supreme Court made by a president with eleven months to serve in the position. We believe the idea that a ‘lame duck’ president should not submit a nominee when there is a vacancy on the highest court in the land is a novel and absurd notion, as is the claim that for eighty years or more, no Supreme Court vacancy occurring in an election year has been filled before the election.

“… In 1912, a nominee of President Taft was confirmed to fill the vacancy created by the death of John Marshall Harlan; in 1916, Woodrow Wilson had two nominees confirmed by the Senate; in 1932, President Hoover had a nominee confirmed after Oliver Wendell Holmes retired; FDR had another vacancy filled with confirmation by the Senate in 1940. …

“It is technically in the power of the Senate to engage in aggressive denial on presidential nominations. But we believe that the Framers’ construction of the process of nominations and confirmation to federal courts, including the Senate’s power of ‘advice and consent,’ does not anticipate or countenance an obdurate refusal by the body to acknowledge or consider a president’s nominee, especially to the highest court in the land. The refusal to hold hearings and deliberate on a nominee at this level is truly unprecedented and, in our view, dangerous.”

While McConnell and Senate Republicans waited an unprecedented 400 days before Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the highest court in the land, now… all of the sudden, they are in a rush to confirm Kavanaugh. Why? Clearly, it’s all about winning and winning has nothing to do with an investigation into the truth.

In the Trump era, nothing succeeds like partisan excess.

Next Week: Something completely different.


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