The Guardian view on US politics: no hearing for women

Christine Blasey Ford

Can you trust women? This is the question at the heart of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the supreme court. It was evident long before Thursday’s senate judiciary committee hearings addressing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault – which he denies – and indeed before Dr Ford first accused him. Donald Trump put him forward having promised to appoint judges who would reverse the Roe v Wade abortion ruling, pleasing those who do not believe that women can be trusted to control their own bodies. The confirmation process has been rushed and defective because Republicans wanted to push it through before November’s midterm elections, afraid that a Democratic advance might threaten their control of judicial nominees. They have continued to back him in the face of three grave accusations for the same reason.

Before the testimony, more voters – especially female voters – believed Dr Ford than Mr Kavanaugh. But Republicans leaned to Mr Kavanaugh and the party has calculated that the potential electoral cost of backing him is outweighed by the risk of losing their ability to please their base by skewing the court decisively to the right. In other circumstances he would surely have been dropped, if only to avoid embarrassment.

It is a sign of progress that the wholly male Republican side of the committee realised they should hire a female counsel to do their questioning. (It is equally telling that she was described as a “female assistant”.) They know that the hostile all-male interrogation of Anita Hill, which secured Clarence Thomas’s place on the court, rebounded on them in the electoral “Year of the Woman”. Even Mr Trump, elected president despite bragging about sexually assaulting…

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