Image Credits: AP Photo

This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from Christine Blasey Ford, who detailed her sexual assault allegation involving Brett Kavanaugh, more than 36 years ago. She gave a compelling testimony, one that was well received by many members of the committee. Many of the Senate democrats used their time to commend her bravery, and to let her know that they believed her. Republican Texas senator John Cornyn said “I found no reason to find her not credible.” Coming out of her testimony and into Kavanaugh’s, many believed he was fighting an uphill battle, and weren’t sure how he could convince the committee that he was innocent.

I think it’s fair to say that this whole thing has been messy at best. Even among staunch conservatives, who believed in and cheered for Kavanaugh before the allegations, there’s been a pause, and many have hoped this hearing would help to form their opinion.

Enter Kavanaugh. A far cry from the Supreme Court nominee that we saw in this same room just a few weeks ago, this Kavanaugh is fired up, he’s passionate, and he’s emotional. Kavanaugh opened by indicating that he wrote his 40-minute opening statement himself, and then goes on to passionately describe what he has been through, saying “my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed.” He continued by emphasizing the testimony of Ms. Kaiser, who denies knowing or attending social gatherings with Kavanaugh, despite Dr. Ford’s testimony. Kavanaugh then addressed the court, saying “you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.” He called out the Democratic senators who opposed him within hours of his nomination, addressing the letter detailing this allegation that had been “held in secret for weeks by a Democratic member” until “it was needed” as a political tactic “publicly deployed over Dr. Ford’s wishes” to derail him. Undeterred by recent events, Kavanaugh passionately declared, “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process.” And, in one of the most tweeted about lines of the speech, he said, “You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

The original tone of Kavanaugh’s speech, fired up and resolute, then shifted. “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever,” he said, “Allegations of sexual assault must always be taken seriously, always.” Kavanaugh assured the American people that he was not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been assaulted, but he knew it wasn’t by him. Despite the allegation, Kavanaugh emphasized several times that he had no ill will toward Dr. Ford, and choked up as he told a moving story about his 10-year old daughter, Liza.

“The other night Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers and little Liza, all of ten years old, said to Ashley, we should pray for the woman. That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old. We mean no ill will.”

The tone then shifted once again, as Kavanaugh began to address each section of the allegation and relevant evidence. He spoke of his career, and the fact that, during his time in the public eye, and even the White House, no such allegations were brought forward. Next, he addressed specifics, reiterating that they did not travel in the same social circle, and that her allegation “is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there.” Judge Kavanaugh then addressed the calendars he kept, reading entries from the summer in question, establishing that he was out of town or busy each weekend during that summer. He points out that other small gatherings were listed in his calendar, but no such gathering as described by Dr. Ford is listed. While Kavanaugh does admit that he occasionally drank and attended parties, he tells the committee that he remained a virgin throughout high school and “for many years after that.” Continuing, the judge speaks of the friends he kept in school, and the 65 that wrote a letter, testifying to his character. He visibly choked up again speaking about one of those friends.

“One of those women friends from college, a self-described liberal and feminist sent me a text last night that said, quote, “Deep breaths, you’re a good man, a good man, a good man.””

Drawing from his opening statement during the nomination process, Kavanaugh closed his statement by reiterated his support for women, especially in the hiring process. He read several statements to his character from colleagues at the Bush White House, and followed with the support of parents from the basketball team he coaches. Finally Kavanaugh reiterated his support for due process, but stood firm in the assertion that he is innocent, saying the following:

“I ask you to judge me by the standard that you would want applied to your father, your brother, or your son. My family and I intend no ill will toward Dr. Ford or her family. But I swear today, under oath, before the Senate and the nation and before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge.”

Reactions throughout the opening statement were passionate and divided. His wife could be seen tearing up behind him, appearing devastated and tired. Dr. Ford’s lawyers were also in the crowd, with stone-faced expressions as they took it all in. The response on social media was huge. Many on Twitter seemed to be moved, believing that this fiery passion could not possibly be an act, and the tears coming from both the nominee and his wife were telling of the truth behind his innocence. Others disagreed: Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post tweeted: “Angry Kavanaugh is not a good look, doesn’t seem like a smart approach to me.” Others asserted that this is not the demeanor of a Supreme Court Justice. Supporters fought back, with Caleb Hull tweeting: “Imagine being accused of gang-rape by people that did not properly vet the story and watching those same people criticize you for being so angry.” These divided reaction indicate that neither side is backing down. Senators from the left have vehemently supported Dr. Ford, while some Senators on the right have spoken out against this “sham” as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called it. While it’s not clear who the Judiciary Committee as a whole believes, America is definitely watching, and today’s hearing reignited that passion on both sides.

Lauren N
Lauren is one of our managing editors here at Future Female Leaders. When she is not editing FFL articles, you can find her color coding her whole life in her Lilly Pulitzer agenda. She's a southern girl who loves Hokie football and isn't afraid to be politically incorrect, so consider this your trigger warning.

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