On July 9th, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court nominee, replacing the recently retired Anthony Kennedy. Later during the summer, a letter regarding sexual assault by Kavanaugh was sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who forwarded the letter to the FBI. Despite the attempts of Feinstein for secrecy, it has become known that the letter contained details regarding an assault by Kavanaugh on Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University.
The incident involves a teenage Kavanaugh pushing Ford onto a bed at a house party, attempting to remove her clothes, and covering her mouth to silence her screams. It was originally kept quiet until 2012, when Ford shared the incident in therapy, and until now, when the letter was leaked and the incident became public knowledge. Kavanaugh has also recently been accused by two other women, one of which states he was involved in a situation where she was gang raped. Currently, America is at odds; Kavanaugh has supporters, including Trump himself, but a walkout organized for September 24th in support of Ford garnered much attention, including from celebrities.
America could easily debate the validity of Ford’s story for decades, and they certainly look like they might. There is little evidence of any of the attacks, and unfortunately no proof save for the words of all three women, which is technically not enough in the court of law. But there is a vital part of this story that is being forgotten: we are not in a court of law. America is deciding on a new Supreme Court Judge, not Kavanaugh’s sentence; politics does not posit innocence until proven guilty. Ford wrote that letter anonymously to inform the Senate of Kavanaugh’s character, a fact she felt was important considering his nomination.
And it is important.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in America, and judges are appointed for life. Does America really want to risk putting a man accused of sexual assault in that position?
Although American politics seem far away right now, Ford’s story hits close to home. Recently, UBCO’s SVPRO began their ‘I Believe You’ campaign, an initiative dedicated to making victims feel heard.
Ford’s story is a classic example of a woman attempting to come forward, only to face obstacles at every step; legally, politically, and socially. Coming forward about sexual assault is not easy for anyone, and there is little fame or money that can make up for the trauma (if there is fame or money involved at all).
As of now, the US Senate has accepted Kavanaugh’s nomination, while also asking for a delay that will allow the FBI to investigate the claims made against Kavanaugh (an investigation that Ford willingly agreed to, and Kavanaugh tried to refuse).
Maybe America, and Trump, could benefit from an “I Believe You” campaign, to understand the importance of not elevating those accused of sexual assault, especially into positions of power.