Vox published a piece this afternoon drawing parallels between the Clarence Thomas confirmation and that of Brett Kavanaugh. But in laying out the “striking parallels” between the two, author Anna North seems to overlook some of the even more striking differences.
It feels like 1991 all over again.
That year, Clarence Thomas was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to the Supreme Court, and Anita Hill testified that he had sexually harassed her when they worked together several years prior. Sen. Joe Biden, then the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, failed to call additional witnesses whose testimony could have supported Hill’s account. Thomas has now served on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years.
Today, the details are different but the basic outline is eerily similar. In July, a woman reported to Democrats in Congress that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her when they were both in high school. He has denied the allegation.
North grants that the details are different but doesn’t spend any time looking at those differences. Yes, both men were nominated to the Supreme Court, but Thomas was accused by a woman who came forward and testified under oath. So far, Kavanaugh’s accuser has chosen to remain anonymous, making it impossible for anyone to judge her credibility or ask her questions that might confirm or discredit her story.
Another significant difference: Kavanaugh’s accuser says there was someone else in the room during the alleged incident. But as Allahpundit noted earlier, that person has now been identified and says no such incident or anything like it ever occurred. Could that person be lying? Yes, anything’s possible but that person is at least speaking under their own name and, so far, the accuser is not.
Additionally, the accusations against Clarence Thomas involved his behavior as an adult in an office. The accusations against Kavanaugh involve a teenager. That’s not to suggest the behavior alleged in the letter is acceptable because it’s not, but the law does treat teens and adults differently.
Despite all of this, North concludes that the only truly significant difference between Thomas and Kavanaugh is the #MeToo movement.
So far, it has been hard to measure the impact of #MeToo. We can point to the firings of high-profile men, but it’s more difficult to tell how values and attitudes in the country are changing. But now, senators are hurtling toward a chance either to send a man accused of attempted sexual assault to the Supreme Court or to decide that such allegations disqualify him from one of the highest offices in the country, one that would give him the power to make decisions with life-or-death consequences for Americans.
No one should be disqualified from anything based on unproven allegations. So far, Kavanaugh’s accuser hasn’t stepped forward to back up her accusations and the other two people in the room deny this happened at all. How can Kavanaugh even defend himself in any detailed way if he doesn’t know who is making the accusation? It really ought to take more than an anonymous letter to determine Brett Kavanaugh’s future or that of the Supreme Court.