Supreme Court nominations

Anita Hill testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991./Rob Crandall (Shutterstock.com).

Again faced with sexual harassment and assault claims involving a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, the Senate Judiciary Committee still has no protocol for vetting the allegations, writes Anita Hill, who nearly 30 years ago testified that Justice Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.

Hill, who is now a professor of law, social policy and gender studies at Brandeis University, wrote an opinion piece was published Tuesday in the New York Times. It centers on Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist at Stanford University, who claims Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers in the early 1980s.

Ford wants a FBI investigation of the matter, her attorneys wrote Tuesday to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and chairman of the judiciary committee.

“As that same committee, on which sit some of the same members as nearly three decades ago, now moves forward with the Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings, the integrity of the court, the country’s commitment to addressing sexual violence as a matter of public interest, and the lives of the two principal witnesses who will be testifying hang in the balance,” Hill wrote. “Today, the public expects better from our government than we got in 1991, when our representatives performed in ways that gave employers permission to mishandle workplace harassment complaints throughout the following decades.”

Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her while as her supervisor at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and says the FBI should be allowed to investigate Ford’s allegations ahead of Monday’s scheduled hearing before the committee, the Washington Post reports.

According to Ford, Kavanaugh cornered her in a bedroom during a party, pinned her to a bed, attempted to pull off a swimsuit she was wearing, groped her and grinded on top of her, while holding his hand over her mouth. Ford says a friend of Kavanaugh’s, Mark Judge, watched, and both of them were “stumbling drunk.”

This occurred in 1982 and Ford spoke about it with her therapist 30 years later.

If the hearing takes place on Monday, Kavanaugh is also expected to testify.

A statement released Tuesday by Judge’s lawyer says he has no memory of the alleged incident, and never saw Kavanaugh behave in the way that Ford described. Judge is the author of Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk, which describes a culture of partying among classmates at his high school. The book describes Judge’s recovery—and includes a character named “Bart O’Kavanaugh.”

See also:

ABA Journal: “Time’s up: Legal, judicial systems slow to adapt to sexual harassment and assault issues”

Updated at 12:45 p.m. to add biographical information on Hill.