Brett Kavanaugh is the 114th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
In a 50-48 vote in the Senate on Saturday, 49 Republicans and one Democrat voted to confirm Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country despite numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him.
Following Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s congressional testimony about her accusation that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school, the White House approved a “supplemental background investigation” of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. However, that effort was widely considered to be woefully incomplete since the scope of the probe was limited by Republicans and the FBI didn’t interview Ford, Kavanaugh, or dozens of other people of potential interest.
Ford’s testimony evoked comparisons to Anita Hill, who also spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a nationally-televised hearing about accusations of sexual misconduct by a Supreme Court nominee.
In October 1991, Hill detailed how a former male co-worker in the federal government had allegedly engaged in repeated sexual harassment. According to her testimony, Hill’s then-boss subjected her to remarks about “his own sexual prowess,” “the size of his own penis as being larger than normal,” and “pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals, and films showing group sex or rape scenes.”
Women who claimed to corroborate the accusations were not allowed to testify before the Senate. Despite the allegations, Republicans rarely wavered in their support of the conservative judge who had been nominated by a Republican president, as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed the accuser was confused while Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained about the allegations being made public. After a questionable FBI investigation and an angry denial by the conservative judicial nominee, Clarence Thomas was narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court.
With Kavanaugh’s confirmation, nearly a quarter of the Supreme Court has now been credibly accused of sexual misconduct since Thomas remains on the bench 27 years after Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment.
The laws of the land on reproductive rights, as well as other health issues that affect women and gender minorities, are now subject to a Supreme Court on which a third of the male justices have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct against women.
An October 1991 New York Times/CBS News poll found that only 24 percent of respondents believed Hill’s accusations against Thomas. A Quinnipiac poll released earlier this week showed 48 percent of respondents believe Ford’s allegations about Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh is the second judge nominated by Trump, who himself has been credibly accused of sexual assault and harassment by over a dozen women, to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.
Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, but Senate Republicans prevented President Barack Obama from filling the vacancy during his last year in office in an unprecedented show of obstruction. Trump then nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed by a 54-45 Senate vote in April 2017, instead. Kavanaugh fills the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy‘s retirement this summer.