On the eve of Brett Kavanaugh’s appearance Thursday to face accusations of sexual misconduct, his would-be colleague on the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lauded the ongoing women’s cultural movement confronting mistreatment and the long silence of victims.
Kavanaugh has denied claims of sexual assault and excessive drinking stemming from his high school years in suburban Washington. The confrontation Thursday, set to begin at 10 a.m. before the Senate Judiciary Committee, comes with the #MeToo movement in the backdrop and just days after comedian Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing women years ago.
“I am really cheered on by this #MeToo [movement],” Ginsburg said Wednesday in a conversation with Dean William Treanor of Georgetown University Law Center. “Because these #MeToo complaints—every woman of my vintage has not just one story, but many stories. But we thought there was nothing you could do about it. Boys will be boys, so just find a way to get out of it. #MeToo was also an example of women coming together in numbers. Women nowadays are not silent about bad behavior.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday, defending Kavanaugh, called the #MeToo movement “very dangerous.” He called the allegations against Kavanaugh “all false” but said he would watch the hearing Thursday and could be convinced otherwise.
“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me, really false charges,” Trump said at a press conference. “I know friends that have had false charges. People want fame. They want money. They want whatever. So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television, where they say, ‘Oh, Judge Kavanaugh this or that.’ It’s happened to me many times.”
Ginsburg has spoken out previously in support of the #MeToo movement. “It’s amazing to me that, for the first time, women are really listened to, because sexual harassment had often been dismissed as ‘well, she made it up’ or ‘she’s too thin-skinned.’ So I think it’s a very healthy development,” Ginsburg said in February.
Ginsburg did not mention Kavanaugh or his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, during her remarks with Treanor.
Ford, a psychology professor in California, alleges Kavanaugh, then 17, pinned her to a bed at a party, tried to pull off her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. Ford, who said she believed Kavanaugh was going to rape her, remained silent for years about the alleged abuse, saying she was “too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details.”
The committee’s Republican leadership reopened Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings to address Ford’s claims. There’s no certainty that Kavanaugh, if he’s confirmed, will be sitting at the start of the Supreme Court term on Monday.