It’s one of the biggest marks a president can leave on the judiciary: a Supreme Court nomination. And Trump has a narrow window of time to get his pick – federal appellate judge Brett Kavanaugh – confirmed. The Supreme Court term begins October 1st, and the looming midterm elections threaten to disrupt the GOP’s dominance in the Senate.
Yet Kavanagh’s character has come into question with multiple eleventh-hour allegations. All revolve around drunken partying during Kavanaugh’s high school and college days. One former peer, psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, alleged that Kavanaugh pinned her down, covered her mouth and attempted to sexually assault her. A second woman, former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, has come forward with allegations that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken party. And Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, represents a third woman with similar allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
Is this Anita Hill all over again?
It’s not the first time a Supreme Court nominee has faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation in the early ’90s was nearly derailed by allegations from Anita Hill, who worked with him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education. Hill detailed a lengthy history of sexual harassment involving unwanted advances and lewd comments.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation involves key differences. Notably, Hill did not allege any physical contact. The allegations against Kavanaugh involve more serious misconduct, but they allegedly took place more than 30 years ago, when he was a teenager (though technically an adult).
Kavanaugh also faces a much different political and social climate than Thomas two decades ago. The #MeToo movement has ignited public sentiment against men in positions of power who have allegedly harassed or assaulted women. And Kavanaugh fits that bill.
Much hangs in the balance, as Kavanaugh (or whoever ultimately gets confirmed) would be the deciding vote between liberal and conservative justices on the nation’s highest court.