As the U.S. Senate inches closer to a vote on whether to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 to the Supreme Court, New Haven and Yale communities continue to grapple with the controversies regarding the federal executive and judicial branches.
The nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, hours before the Trump administration announced that the FBI would investigate allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh. Since the news broke, the Yale and New Haven communities have joined national protests against Kavanaugh.
“It’s very unfortunate that people are feeling empowered to come forward but the system really isn’t ready for that,” said Maura Crossin, the executive director of the Victim Rights Center of Connecticut. “The need to change the system comes from needing to change the laws because the laws are so far behind on these subjects it’s appalling. We really need change.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination has sparked controversy since its announcement nationwide. Local and state activists are also paying attention to the ways that Kavanaugh news affects Connecticut in particular, and have ramped up efforts since allegations of sexual misconduct from psychology professor Christine Bailey Ford when the two were in high school. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have voiced opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination, and events held in the Elm City have involved collaboration between groups such as Nasty Women CT and Black Lives Matter New Haven.
In a statement released on Sept. 28, the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence voiced their support for Ford and expressed fear for the future of victims’ ability to report sexual misconduct.
“Sexual violence is already the most under-reported crime in our country,” the statement read. “We fear that more victims will be silenced and more people will be emboldened to commit crimes of sexual assault because they believe they can do so without consequence.”
At a public conversation about inclusivity in the #MeToo movement on Wednesday, Crossin said that the organization is experiencing a higher volume of people visiting for legal help than ever. However, she also said that Connecticut’s five-year statute of limitations for sex crimes makes it particularly difficult for survivors to obtain justice.
This past legislative session, the State Senate passed a bill to increase the statute of limitations for sex crimes to 10 years, but the bill never reached the House.
After Ford’s testimony, State Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, tweeted his support for survivors. He expressed sympathy for sexual assault victims watching the testimony having experienced sexual misconduct themselves, and added that he believes Ford.
State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, has also been vocal in his opposition to Kavanaugh on Twitter. He said that in his role as a legislator, he would never vote for Kavanaugh having watched his performance.
State Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano ’81, R-North Haven, as well as the New Haven Democratic and Republican parties, declined to comment.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. — who sits on the Senate Judiciary committee — voted against Kavanaugh’s advancement, citing his unfit “character” for the Supreme Court. He and other Democratic senators have said that they do not believe Kavanaugh’s story.
Yale students have also showed support for Ford. Miranda Coombe ’21 helped organize last Wednesday’s rally in support of survivors of assault which drew hundreds of Yalies to Old Campus. In an interview with the News, Coombe said “what happened 35 years ago still happens today”— underscoring the importance of creating a support network for current survivors of assault.
“You think you’re alone” as the victim of an assault, she said. She added that the protests are meant to remind the Yale administration and student body that sexual assault is not an issue of the past.
The Senate has scheduled an initial vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation for Friday morning.
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