Commentary, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Kavanaugh nomination: Uncomfortable shadows of the past

Early on in the the nomination of D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court, political researchers exploring Kavanaugh’s likely ideological ranking on the political spectrum placed him right next to Justice Clarence Thomas, suggesting affinity between the two when it comes to how they would act on the court.

The current sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh invites a second comparison about what they might have in common even off the court–namely, their denigration of women–and the Republicans’ consistent willingness to overlook it. There are obvious parallels between the way current GOP leaders and the President are treating the current accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and Anita Hill, who emerged in 1991 with sexual harassment claims during the Thomas confirmation process.

Decades after Anita Hill made the words “sexual harassment” common language and just a year after the #MeToo movement brought down titans in the business, political and entertainment sector, Republicans are still jeering and dismissing sexual assault and misogyny instead of stopping it. President Trump–as though tweeting from a time warp–is predictably blaming the survivor and dismissing Ford’s trauma since she didn’t broadcast it the day it happened. Kavanaugh’s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, may even be denied the opportunity to testify before Senators.

The Republicans’ response to these devastating accusations against their nominee is part of an overall pattern to turn the back the clock for women. The implications for our nation’s future are dire, particularly for poor women and women of color who will face the greatest consequences if we end up with another Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

Activists worried about the fate of Roe v. Wade have mailed thousands of coat hangers to Senator Susan Collins, a critical deciding vote on the Kavanaugh nomination, signaling their concerns about rewinding the era of back alley abortions.

North Carolina women share these concerns but, frankly, we’re more worried about hand-cuffs than coat-hangers these days, since access is a bigger issue than safety for most women. Today, nearly half of all abortions today are conducted with FDA-approved medications, not surgery.  Studies show that medication abortion is incredibly safe resulting in complications in fewer than .4% of cases. In some states, over half the abortion are already conducted using pills at home, not on a table in a clinic. Read more