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Brett Kavanuagh vs. Clarence Thomas: A Case of Déjà Vu

Pamela Picerno, Scarlet Staff

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Brett Kavanaugh’s reported sexual assault has been wildly speculated about lately. What we know is that Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party in high school in 1980. She’s also requesting an FBI investigation.  

Ford’s statement was that Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, had been drinking heavily. Kavanaugh then pushed her on a bed and attempted to rape her while Judge watched. Unsurprisingly, Kavanaugh has denied these accusations, saying that he had “never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone”.  

Since the situation happened so long ago, prosecutors have been forced to rely on eyewitness accounts. 100 women – including celebrities – from Ford’s high school have signed a letter in support of her, while 65 women from Kavanaugh’s school, Georgetown Prep, have written a similar letter. However, this testament to his character is diminished somewhat by several suggestive remarks he’s made over the years, including a speech in which he stated, What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.”  

For many people, the case parallels the Anita Hill’s accusations towards Clarence Thomas in 1991. Hill was also a professor, at the University of Oklahoma, and she’d been working for Thomas, who was a Supreme Court nominee. Both Hill and Ford also took some time to make their accusations to the public.  

However, Hill’s accusations leaned more towards sexual harassment than sexual assault. She maintained that Clarence Thomas had tried to date her. When that didn’t work, he continued to make sexual and inappropriate comments for years, including remarks about pornography and “his own sexual prowess.” Also, Kavanaugh was a teenager at the time of the incident while Thomas was an adult who’d already had a successful career as a politician. It’s unknown how much these differences will actually come into play when a ruling is made.  

After Hill’s accusations, many senators in turn accused her of lying, leading to Clarence Thomas successfully being confirmed into the Supreme Court. Though many people were outraged at this decision, there was a silver lining: four new female members of the senate were elected that year.  

For all the similarities between the two cases, the Clarence Thomas case was almost 20 years ago. The culture we live in has radically shifted towards one of female empowerment, thanks, in part, to the #MeToo movement. The world we live in is giving Christine Blasey Ford much more respect than it ever gave Anita Hill. For all the controversy of the case, that’s a pretty substantial improvement.  

 

Sources :

  1. https://www.vox.com/2018/9/22/17886814/supreme-court-brett-kavanaugh-christine-blasey-ford
  2. https://www.npr.org/2018/09/23/650138049/a-timeline-of-clarence-thomas-anita-hill-controversy-as-kavanaugh-to-face-accuse
  3. https://www.npr.org/2018/09/17/648783307/from-anita-hill-to-christine-blasey-ford-the-similarities-and-differences

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Brett Kavanuagh vs. Clarence Thomas: A Case of Déjà Vu