President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and the woman accusing him of sexual assault faced the Senate Judiciary Committee for questioning on Sept. 28.
People across the country, including students at Quinnipiac, gathered around TVs and phones to witness the testimonies of Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in 1982.
[media-credit name=”photo courtesy of Ninian Reid / Flickr Creative Commons” align=”alignright” width=”500″][/media-credit]Ford, who originally planned to keep her identity secret, reached out to The Washington Post tip line to express her allegations against Kavanaugh in July after he was put on the short list for judges to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, according to CNN Politics. She then followed up with a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein asking to keep the matter confidential.
After Kavanaugh’s hearings began in early September, The Intercept reported that Feinstein had possession of a letter detailing an accusation against Kavanaugh.
On Sept. 14, The Washington Post interviewed Ford and released a story that identified her by name. Three days later she said she would be interested in testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to CNN Politics. The testimony included questioning from both Republican and Democratic members of the committee.
Republicans on the judiciary committee hired Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, to question Ford, rather than having the 11 white males on the committee complete the questioning, according to CNN Politics.
This testimonial, along with a firm denial from Kavanaugh, is what captivated audiences across the country this week.
“This is basically a referendum of whether or not sexual assault is okay in our society,” senior political science major Andrew Guistwite said who watched the testimonies.
Ford, who is certain the man who cornered her in a bedroom 36 years ago was Kavanaugh, claims he was highly intoxicated and attacked her with the intent to rape her. Kavanaugh agrees that Ford could have been assaulted at a party, but attests that he was not the attacker.
Kavanaugh provided calendars that he kept as a teenager as evidence that he did not attend the party in which he allegedly assaulted Ford. Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook was also part of a greater discussion that hoped gauge his character in high school.
Throughout the testimony, Kavanaugh tried to portray himself as a church-going, Yale graduate who enjoyed playing football and spending time with his friends in high school. But the testimony kept returning to one theme, beer.
Several lines of questioning directed at Kavanaugh throughout the hearing were related to his drinking habits. Business Insider reported he mentioned beer 30 times during the testimony.
Kavanaugh was also subject to multiple questions about his friend Mark Judge who was reported by Ford to have been present in the room during the alleged attack. Ford says Judge was also drunk. Judge is being investigated as a key witness.
Now, America is engaged in a nation-wide debate about who to believe.
The Chronicle conducted an informal poll to gather data on Quinnipiac’s students’ opinions on the Kavanaugh testimonies. Out of 102 students that responded to the survey, 46 students identified as Democrats, 21 Republicans, 29 Independent, two Libertarian and five who preferred not to answer.
After hearing testimonies from both Ford and Kavanaugh, 87 of the respondents believed Ford, the victim.
In agreement with the Senate’s decision to push the vote a week, 81 students said they did not think the decision should proceed without an FBI investigation.
“I feel that especially in cases of sexual assault that women don’t really have an excuse to lie,” senior political science major Marc Regis said. “So I’m willing to believe the woman in more cases than not.”
According to a poll by the Quinnipiac Polling Institute released on Oct. 1, 48 percent of Americans also believe Ford. Guistwite believes Ford’s testimony is legitimate, despite 36 years having passed since the incident.
“The criticism that’s been circulating right now is that it’s been so many years and that’s validating her situation somehow but that’s not the case at all,” Guistwite said. “If you’re doing this in your lifetime you’re doing something wrong no matter when it is.”
Conversely, 49 percent of Americans believe that Kavanaugh “is the target of a politically motivated smear campaign” in order to prevent his confirmation, according to the Quinnipiac Poll. Twenty-five percent of Americans do not believe Ford is being honest.
Junior health science major Matthew Williams is sympathetic to Ford’s testimony, but is also sympathetic to the impact this allegation will have on Kavanaugh’s reputation. Williams believes many people are drawing conclusions about Kavanaugh’s guilt prematurely.
“It is upsetting to see people basically found guilty before even given a fair trial,” Williams said. “This man’s image has been ruined, it has probably affected his family, and is even going to affect his ability to obtain a job.”
The stakes are high because the job Kavanaugh seeks is one of the most prestigious in the United States. Supreme Court Justices serve for life, according to the Supreme Court official site. If Kavanaugh were to be confirmed, conservatives would have control of all three branches of government. Liberals fear what this would mean for reproductive rights and the future of Roe v. Wade, according to a podcast by NBS News.
The day after the testimonies, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) led talks that delayed the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation scheduled for that day. Flake is regarded as a senator that could cast a deciding vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He believes there should be an FBI investigation into the allegations knowing the significance of the position at stake.
Guistwite agrees that an FBI investigation is the necessary next step.
“I think there should be an investigation because if anyone can get to the bottom of this its the FBI,” Guistwite said.
Counseling services are available to those who have been affected by the sensitive topics discussed within these events at 203-582-8680 or [email protected]
The decision to confirm or deny Kavanaugh will be made by Friday, Oct. 5. Stay with The Chronicle for updates.