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Kavanaugh vs MeToo: Did US take a U-turn?

Published on : 06 October 2018, 01:21 PM
Kavanaugh vs MeToo: Did US take a U-turn?


Brett Kavanaugh is one step away from confirming a seat in the Supreme Court of the United States. Despite a monumental battle over the nomination of the conservative judge over several accusations of sexual abuse, the Senate voted on Friday in favor of him. Two of the three least convinced Republican senators, Jeff Flake, and Susan Collins, gave their yes, as did a West Virginia Democrat, Joe Manchin. On the day that marks one year since the birth of the #MeToo movement against harassment, the United States is promoting a new member in its highest court, a man irremediably tainted by doubts and partisanship.

No judge who chooses the highest US court has an easy confirmation. It is a lifetime magistracy with a crucial power and the future of the country is in its hands (SC ended racial segregation in schools or legalized abortion), but this process has been especially traumatic. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University (California), now 51, accused Kavanaugh, 53, of trying to rape her in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and he was 17, in a meeting of teenagers in a house outside of Washington DC. Kavanaugh denies it, but the testimony of the woman last Thursday before the Senate and unsatisfactory answers of the judge made the Republicans accept an FBI investigation before confirming him in the upper house. At least two other women accused him of various abuses.

If in the final voting Kavanaugh is voted again in favor of becoming the new member of the court, there is no last-minute turn, Kavanaugh will be the new member of the Supreme for a long time, despite all the controversy. Republicans occupy 51 of the 100 seats in the upper house, which is enough to bless the nominee for Donald Trump. In case of a tie (50-50), the vote of the vice president, Mike Pence, would resolve in favor of the conservatives.

This Friday there were four doubtful senators, but three of them announced that they would confirm Kavanaugh in the final vote, scheduled for Saturday. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, spoke in favor of this procedural vote on Friday morning and in the afternoon, she announced that she would also vote for the final session. She did it in a 45-minute speech, in which he tried to defend that she questioned neither the victim nor the #Metoo movement, but that, at the same time, she believed Kavanaugh.

Jeff Flake, of Arizona, also voted yes, and reported that, unless something new happens, it will be his final position. Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, voted against. She opined that Kavanaugh "is a good man," but "he is not the best man for the court at this time." And Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, broke the consensus of his people by voting in favor, adding that he will do so on Saturday.

Flake`s performance is especially significant. This senator, one of the few Republicans publicly critical of Trump, was the one who forced his party to accept a week of FBI investigations before ratifying Kavanaugh. Last Friday, in a televised political drama in real time, he changed his mind in the Senate Justice Committee, of which he is a part, after being challenged for five minutes before the television by two women who identified themselves as victims of sexual assault. Flake ruled in favor of bringing Kavanaugh`s appointment to the full Senate in that previous committee vote, but on the condition that it be submitted to a federal investigation.

Now, if we go back one year from now, we will be introduced with phrases like ‘the silence breakers’, which was the vanguard of a global movement by millions of women to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. It was surprisingly famous Time magazine’s Person of the Year. A brave woman Tarana Burke started the movement with hashtag MeToo. Burke, a women’s rights activist, coined the term while working with sexual violence survivors more than a decade ago.

So, the timespan of the US to make a U-turn, from giving the women justice to ignoring their accusations, was only a year. 

Bangla Insider/ZRM