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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Kavanaugh Nomination Advances

Updated: Sep 29, 2018

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on September 28, 2018

Eleven male Republicans members on the United States Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court by sending it to the full Senate for an approval vote. Kavanaugh is mired in a decades-old sexual assault controversy involving Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who claims Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the sexual assault claim. Both parties testified under oath about the incident during Thursday’s Committee hearing.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who voted to advance the Kavanaugh’s nomination, has called for a one-week delay in the full Senate vote in order to allow the FBI time to conduct a full background investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations of sexual misconduct.

If Sen. Flake and one or two other Republican senators oppose a Senate floor vote unless and until the FBI gets involved, this move could stall or even doom Kavanaugh's confirmation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has gone on record as saying she supports Flake’s call for an investigation.

A History of Second-Class Citizenship

Based upon the history of how men in power have historically mistreated women in America for hundreds of years, the outcome of the Kavanaugh nomination is difficult to predict.

Trump, who calls women “dogs” and “pigs” and who was captured on an audiotape describing how he grabs women by the “pussy”, was elected as President even though he has no respect for women. Now, Trump is leading the fight for Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation. 

Trump also supported former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, a reputed pedophile, in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat last year. Moore was accused of molesting young girls while he was serving as a local prosecutor, but this did not deter Trump from supporting him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has promised to “plow right through” Ms. Ford’s sexual assault claims in order to get Kavanaugh confirmed. McConnell does not care whether Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ms. Ford, or whether Kavanaugh has lied about his version of the incident.

The Republican Judiciary Committeemembers who voted in favor of Kavanaugh were Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), John Cornyn (Texas), Michael S. Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Mike Crapo (Indiana), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), and John Kennedy (Louisiana). The ten Democrats on the Committee voted against his nomination.

Senator Ted Cruz's vote for Kavanaugh is not surprising. After Trump viciously attacked Cruz’ wife and her physical appearance during the 2016 presidential election, Cruz did nothing to defend her honor. Like a typical political coward, Cruz never held Trump accountable for his unnecessary personal attack on Heidi Cruz.

The Republican Attitude Toward Women is a Present-Day Vestige of Centuries of Legally Sanctioned Abuse

The treatment of women in the United States is best gauged by tracking the status of their rights in the United States Constitution, its 27 Amendments, and centuries of case law.

The Constitution was written on September 17, 1787, presented on September 28, 1787, and ratified on June 21, 1788 by white men for the benefit of white men. Women and slaves in America were regarded as the “property” of white men. Neither group had any rights that were protected in the Constitution.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution (known as the Bill of Rights) were intended to recognize and protect the individual rights of white men. Women and blacks were excluded from the basic protections afforded in the Bill of Rights.

Women in America have been subjugated to second-class citizenship, or worse, for centuries. For example, a married man had the right to beat his wife as long as the stick he used was a “switch about the size of one of his fingers (but not as large as his thumb) and it did not leave permanent injuries on her.” This right was protected in Alabama until October 6, 1871 when the Alabama Supreme Court declared such wife-beating conduct unlawful in the case of Fulgham v. the State of Alabama.

Prior to Fulgham, a husband enjoyed the right to: (a) beat his wife with a stick, (b) pull her hair, (c) choke her, (d) spit in her face, (d) kick her about the floor, and (e) inflict upon her like indignities that were sanctioned in the old English common law (which served as the foundation for American laws). In addition to his ability to physically abuse his wife, a husband also acquired the rights to his wife's person, the value of both her paid and unpaid labor, and any property that accompanied their nuptials.

Women did not get the right to vote in America until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Furthermore, women only acquired the right to equal pay for performing the same jobs held by men in 1963.

Sexual Assaults Were Authorized in Law

For centuries, English common law held that it was not legally possible for a man to rape his wife. From 1736 to 1979, this sexist legal principle allowed married men in America to rape their wives with impunity and without legal consequences.

The vestiges of this male sexual privilege in American history still linger today. Rape and sexual assault victims are demeaned, trashed, and re-victimized in our society. Many law enforcement agencies routinely disrespect these victims when they are reporting sexual assaults (as was the case involving University of Alabama honors student Megan Rondini in 2015). These victims are often marginalized in the political arena when their sexual assault incidents get in the way of regressive chauvinistic agendas, as was the case with the Kavanaugh-Ford Senate Committee hearing.

It is now up to two Republican female Senators – Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins -- and one Republican male – Jeff Flake -- to prevent a complete failure of justice in the Kavanaugh-Ford sexual assault case. These Senators must demand a full and complete FBI investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations. The results of this investigation must be provided to all Senators and the public before a vote is taken on Kavanaugh's nomination.

Will these three Republican Senators rise to the occasion? The future of sexual assault victims hangs in the balance. So does the status of women in America.

PHOTO: Brett Kavanaugh (left) denies decades-old sexual assault allegations made against him by Dr. Christine Ford (Right). Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court will soon be decided by the full Senate. Which one of these two people is lying under oath?

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