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Post-SCOTUS reflection: Speaking up still matters!

Post-SCOTUS reflection: Speaking up still matters!

Brett Kavanaugh joined the Supreme Court this week, after the Senate voted on near-party lines late last week to confirm him. That vote hurt, and undoubtedly will endanger women’s health and rights, as we had warned. But we want to thank all of our Raising Women’s Voices supporters for your incredible #SaveSCOTUS advocacy and send you this message: Speaking up still matters!

One female Republican Senator heard our messages. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was the lone Republican to vote no and she explained, “The Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 1.2 requires that a judge ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.’ … After the hearing that we all watched last week, last Thursday, it became clear to me… that that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable.”

In contrast, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) gave a lengthy speech in support of Kavanaugh in which she railed against the groups that had opposed him, while disingenuously ignoring the overwhelming spending advantage of the groups supporting him. Collins dismissed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that she was “100 percent certain” that Kavanaugh was her attacker. Collins also expressed confidence that Kavanaugh would be a moderating force on the Court, leading to fewer 5-4 decisions. That assertion was immediately undercut by Kavanaugh’s second day on the bench this week, when he argued in support of“harshness” for immigrants detained without bail hearings.

But even now, the fight over Kavanaugh is far from over. This week, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray about why the investigation had ignored dozens of witnesses, confirming on the record that the White House had strictly limited the scope. In the House, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records related to the investigation. And Democrats have promised that if they win control of either chamber, they will conduct investigations into the assault allegations and the possibility that Kavanaugh committed perjury.

In the near-term, however, it’s easy to feel despair. A president accused of sexual assault won the confirmation of a judge accused of sexual assault. Along with another justice accused of sexual harassment, these men are certain to make the Court much more hostile to women’s health and autonomy. For millions of survivors who watched Dr. Blasey Ford painfully testify about her experiences, it may feel like their voices have been silenced again.

But even now, we find hope in this moment. When Professor Anita Hill bravely testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, it was in front of an all-white, all-male panel of senators, many of whom were guilty of the same conduct as Clarence Thomas. In 2018, some of the committee’s most effective senators are women of color. Inspired by the MeToo movement—the brainchild of Tarana Burke, a Black woman activist—and by the heroic examples of Hill, Blasey Ford, and others, women and men who’ve never shared their stories before have been talking openly about their experiences. And it is working! More Americans believe the survivors who spoke up than believe Kavanaugh’s denials. More Americans opposed his confirmation than supported it. Speaking up still matters. Fighting back still matters.

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