I write today to assert that in the debate on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to a position of Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and the recent allegations of sexual assault, you have missed the point.
The only wise, honorable and acceptable response at this moment in history to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s assertion that as a young teen she was sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh would have been for the Judge to acknowledge the courage that it takes for a survivor to step forward, to express his compassion for Dr. Ford specifically and for all survivors of sexual violence, and to provide assurances that he takes this issue seriously–as he would expect that anyone would. Surely you can agree that all of us will be best-served by a Justice who is wise and honorable and has a general awareness of current events. Judge Kavanaugh’s response has been not only a disappointment, but a complete failure in each of those regards.
Judge Kavanaugh’s responses, declaring the allegations “completely false” and noting that the event took place “36 years ago,” are the responses of someone on the defensive, someone unaware of what we know in the year 2018 about sexual violence, trauma, memory and the human brain. If he has not been exposed to the scholarly research on these issues in his professional or personal life, I would have hoped that an individual seeking the type of position and power that Judge Kavanaugh is seeking would have taken the time to do some research before crafting a response. In the midst of a nomination process one might expect the nominee to give more thought to his public declarations.
Which raises another issue. Had a 25-year old with no background in politics or the law offered a similar response upon being surprised by a public allegation it would be understandable. Unfortunate, but understandable. This is a man who has had every economic and educational advantage, from birth, who has reached the mature age of 53, yet still failed to act with wisdom or compassion when faced with the possibility of having inflicted harm on another individual. It certainly raises concern for me about whether or not he had a firm reign on his privilege and power as a youth.
I suggest to you that it is no longer important to know whether or not Judge Kavanaugh ever perpetrated a sexual assault. In this unexpected and unscripted moment of confrontation his character has been exposed, and while he remains deserving of our respect and love as a human being, as does Dr. Ford, he is no longer deserving of a position on the highest Court of the land. We can do better than this.
Kristi VanAudenhove, Virginian dedicated to building a world where our young people are neither perpetrators nor victims of sexual violence
cc: Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine