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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Three Takeaways from the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings

Source: Wall Street Journal

1. Dr. Ford, throughout her hearing, came off as sympathetic, knowledgeable, and credible.

In her opening statement, voice shaking, she said that she was “terrified.” She made it clear that she was “no one’s pawn”, and that it was “not [her] responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court.” Instead, she said that her motivation was to “provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged [her] life”, and that it was the senators’ responsibility to decide how to proceed.

Her testimony about what happened in a house party 36 years ago was harrowing, raw, and detailed. She described how Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh pushed her into a room, and how Kavanaugh climbed on top her. She said that she remembered Kavanaugh “putting his hand over [her] mouth,” and how that was what terrified her the most, because she thought that he was going to accidentally kill her.

When asked about why she remembered certain details so clearly, she used her experience as a psychologist to explain: “[…] the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain […], that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus, and so the trauma-related experience then is kind of locked there”. Multiple senators repeatedly asked whether she was positive that Kavanaugh was her attacker, to which she replied that she was “100 percent” certain.

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The most chilling moment of the testimony came when Dr. Ford described how Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge laughed when she was under Kavanaugh. “Two friends having a really good time with one another”, she said.

Overall, Dr. Ford delivered an astonishingly calm, vivid and credible testimony, making Kavanaugh’s position look increasingly shaky.


2. Judge Kavanaugh stuck to his position that the assault allegations were a smear campaign by the Democratic senators.

Tellingly, the New Yorker describes Kavanaugh’s testimony as “Trumpian.” Instead of acting as a nonpartisan judge, he immediately started alternating between yelling and crying as he described how the assault allegations against him had destroyed his life and his reputation. He talked about how he loved coaching “more than anything [he’d] ever done in [his] whole life”, but how, because of the allegations, he might never have a chance to coach a game again.

Kavanaugh completely denied all the allegations against him. He denied ever getting so drunk he blacked out at a party, as well as ever being alone in a room with Mark Judge and Professor Ford. Quite clearly, he said: I swear today, under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge.”

He was quite hostile towards Democratic senators. At one point, when he was asked about his drinking habits as a teenager. He responded by asking the senator about their own drinking habits, although he later apologized. At one point, he also described the hearings as a result from “pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.” He also repeatedly denied allowing an FBI investigation into the allegations, which the Democrats were pushing.

Kavanaugh denied having any “ill-will” against Ford. He described how, a few days go, his daughter had told him that they should “pray for the woman”. He said, “that’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old.”

He closed his testimony by directly addressing the Democratic senators and telling them that their “coordinated effort” to “destroy [his] name and family” would not work, and they would not “drive him out”. He said that they would “never get [him] to quit.”

As CNN says, “there is no doubt he was fighting for more than his shot at the Supreme Court — his entire reputation and way of life.”


3. Both Republicans and Democrats kept launching partisan shots at each other throughout the hearings.

In his opening statement, the chair of the committee, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, criticized the top Democrat of the committee, Dianne Feinstein, for waiting until “the 11th hour” to turn Ford’s letter in to the committee. Feinstein defended herself by saying that Ford’s letter specified that she wished the letter to remain confidential, and how she waited until Ford was ready to come forward.

Feinsten then complained that the Republican senators were rushing to judgement, and that the hearing was “not a trial”. Throughout Ford’s hearing, Democratic senators repeatedly professed support for Ford, and told her that they believed her. According to USA Today, at one point, Sen. Patrick Leahy praised Ford for coming forward, and then made the comparison to Anita Hill, another Supreme Court nomination hearing featuring sexual assault allegations, where the nominee (who was accused of sexual harassment) was passed to the Court anyways.

Nearing the end of Kavanaugh’s hearing, partisan tensions exploded when Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham launched into an outburst aimed at the Democrats and at the proceedings as a whole. According to ABC News, he criticised Democrats for “playing dangerous political games.” When referring to the hearings, he called them a “sham” (USA Today), before he described how he hoped “that the American people [would] see though this charade.” Graham also directly addressed his Republican colleagues, telling them “if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”


Both hearings were emotional and impactful, with the two testimonies directly contradicting each other. Now, what remains is for the Senate to choose whether to approve Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court or not. What’s clear is that the result will be close.


By Anna Martinelli-Parker

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