Abuse Allegations Jeopardize Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination

Keely Clifford ‘22 | Staff Writer

The nomination of President Trump’s top pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, could be derailed by allegations of sexual abuse by former classmates Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

Kavanaugh and Ford have both agreed to testify in rare public hearings before a Senate panel on Sept. 27. Hearings for Ramirez are expected to follow.

On Sept. 17, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee called hearings for Ford, following pressure from Senate Republicans to investigate her sexual abuse allegations.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ford claimed that at a high school party, a “stumbling drunk” Kavanaugh had pinned her down, groped her and grinded his body against hers while a friend watched. Ford said he put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she told the Washington Post.

Kavanaugh, who obtained his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1990, denied the allegations.

“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” he said in a statement on Sept. 17. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”

President Trump stands behind his nominee, saying that “[if the sexual assault] was as bad as she says, charges would have been filed.” Trump does not intend to withdraw his nomination.

On Sept. 23, another accuser came forward against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez, now 53 and a board member and volunteer at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, alleges in an interview with The New Yorker that at a party during her freshman year at Yale University, Brett Kavanaugh put his penis in her face, “laughing.”

Although Ramirez was drunk, she is “one hundred percent” sure that the perpetrator was Kavanaugh because she distinctly remembered someone yelling, “Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face.”

She was “embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated” and though she initially brushed off the incident, she realized it qualified as sexual assault. Ramirez hopes her testimony will help promote Ford’s.

Several of her classmates have vouched for her integrity, and James Roche, a classmate, said in the New Yorker magazine, “Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.” However, others have accused Ramirez of “making up” this occasion for political slander.

Kerri Kupec, a White House spokesperson, emphasized support for Kavanaugh and said that “[t]his 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”

Ramirez is hoping for an FBI investigation, and Senate Democrats are working hard to investigate Ramirez’s claims.

Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who could cast swing votes, said they needed to hear testimony from both Kavanaugh and Ford. If they believe the allegations to be true, they would be forced to vote no on his nomination.

"Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying,” Collins told reporters on Sept. 17.

This comes at a crucial time in our country’s history where women who have survived sexual assault are starting to be heard and treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve, while the perpetrators are starting to face consequences.

Although, Kavanaugh, Ford and Ramirez have not given their testimonies yet, if Kavanaugh is found guilty, the results will be rightfully damning.

Sophian Smith