Why Anita Hill Matters To College Students

Earlier this week, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of physical and sexual assault in the 1980’s.  Since then two women, Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez, have come forward to also accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The accusers have said that these assaults occurred during Kavanaugh's high school and college years. These accusations have caused quite a stir in D.C., as Republicans call it a smear campaign meant to stall Kavanaugh’s nomination, while Democrats want an F.B.I. investigation into the claims and do not want Kavanaugh confirmed until that investigation has been completed.  President Trump has taken the side of the Republicans, saying “And for people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mentioned it and all of a sudden it happens, in my opinion, it’s totally political. It’s totally political.” This mess is just one of many that we have seen throughout the Trump administration thus far. But this is not the first time a Supreme Court nominee has been accused of sexual misconduct.

In 1991, Anita F. Hill, who then taught at the University of Oklahoma’s law school, went in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and detailed her allegations against, then-Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas.  Judge Thomas oversaw her work at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Anita Hill claimed that Thomas verbally sexually harassed her multiple times in the workplace, vividly detailing obscene material to her and asking her out multiple times, even after she repeatedly said no.  Judge Thomas shot back at Ms Hill and the Republicans that were harshly questioning him at the time as being fueled by racism and playing into racist stereotypes. At the time, both Republicans and Democrats found every excuse to discredit Ms Hill, without giving her a chance to defend herself. After many gruelling and quite frankly unfair days of hearings, the Senate ultimately voted 52 to 48 to confirm Judge Thomas.  But what does that mean for us? The media is constantly drawing comparisons between the accusations against Thomas and the accusations against Kavanaugh. However, the majority of college students were not alive during the Anita Hill testimony. So why should it matter that much to us?

It matters because the Senate has the opportunity to do the right thing, and not to let the same mistake happen again.  Anita Hill was tormented on Capitol Hill in the 90’s. She was vilified by the Senate Judiciary Committee and denied the benefit of the doubt.  She was not listened to. Finding out the truth was not in the minds of the Committee members in 1991, but this time around, Congress has the opportunity to keep the truth in the forefront.  Instead of making their decision based on what the public thinks or what their party thinks, the Senators on the committee have an obligation to make a decision based on evidence put in front of them, to hear Dr Ford and to truly listen to her.  If they do not, they will have to answer to their constituents and history. Because in the end, history will look at them and judge them for their just, or unjust actions. A tweet or a memoir will not change how history will treat them. No matter what, the truth will prevail.  It is up to the Senate Judiciary to make sure that the truth is discovered now, rather than 30 years later.