Before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a full Senate vote, Sen. Jeff Flake was confronted by a pair of women in an elevator. They told him they were sexual assault survivors. Through tears, they asked why he was voting to send an accused sexual predator to the Supreme Court. Maria Gallagher, one of the women, demanded, “Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happened to me.”
Like so many women, I am outraged. I am outraged that despite credible allegations by three women, despite their willingness to cooperate with an FBI investigation, despite Christine Blasey Ford’s brave and credible testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Senate Republicans are determined to have Kavanaugh confirmed no matter what.
I am outraged that the pain and trauma of Dr. Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick has not been taken seriously by these Republican men.
These proceedings have sent women and survivors of sexual violence a harmful message — that if you’ve been harassed or assaulted, your pain doesn’t matter if it gets in the way of a man’s goals. Think about how devastating that is. Is that the future we want for our children?
Serving as a Supreme Court justice is a lifetime appointment. It’s an important job — justices must interpret and uphold the law above all else. Our laws exist to protect people, and the Supreme Court is our last line of defense against attacks on our values.
Brett Kavanaugh’s character and conduct are not in alignment with our values. I think on some level Republicans agree, but the sad truth is they would would rather confirm a justice that will rule in their favor rather than confirm no one at all.
Republicans know they can’t risk withdrawing Kavanaugh and nominating someone else. If Democrats win big in November, there’s a chance Republicans could lose the opportunity to nominate a conservative justice and tilt the court in their favor altogether.
But aren’t our values more important than an election? I’m the chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin — believe me, I know how important elections are. But when something so emotionally and morally charged as the nomination of a potential serial sexual assaulter happens, we need to ask ourselves who we are and what really matters.
When every single Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against sending Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate floor for confirmation, they told the nation that what happened to Dr. Ford mattered. They made it clear that one man’s job promotion wasn’t more important than the trauma of women he’d harmed.
Every single Republican on the same committee voted in favor of sending Kavanaugh forward. While I am grateful that GOP leadership is allowing for an FBI probe, if you believe Dr. Ford’s account (and I do), this investigation will lead us to the same conclusion. The question is whether Republicans, after hearing more facts, will agree that we can’t send someone who has likely assaulted women to our nation’s highest bench.
We Democrats believe that everyone deserves a seat at the table, and that no amount of privilege or wealth precludes you from consequences for your actions. That’s why we believe Dr. Ford, and that’s why we’ll continue to support and stand arm in arm with survivors of sexual violence. Because it matters. You matter.
Martha Laning is chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
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