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Anita Hill: Senate should 'do better' than it did in 1991

Anita Hill on Tuesday called for the Senate to handle the allegation of sexual and physical assault against ...

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 8:40 PM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 8:40 PM

Anita Hill on Tuesday called for the Senate to handle the allegation of sexual and physical assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh better than it did her accusation of sexual harassment against now-Justice Clarence Thomas nearly 30 years ago.

"There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better," Hill wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

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Hill said the Senate Judiciary Committee "failed" to fulfill its proper role in its handling of Thomas' nomination and called for an independent investigation into the allegation by Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

Ford alleges that while she and Kavanaugh were at a party in high school, Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom along with his friend Mark Judge and attempted to remove her clothes. She also says that Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

Kavanaugh and Judge have repeatedly denied the accusations. Kavanaugh and Ford

"A fair, neutral and well-thought-out course is the only way to approach Dr. (Ford) and Judge Kavanaugh's upcoming testimony," Hill said. "The details of what that process would look like should be guided by experts who have devoted their careers to understanding sexual violence."

Hill said the committee should choose a "neutral investigative body" to review the accusation and report back to the committee, which would then use the independent report to frame a hearing.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, has said he will convene a hearing on Monday for both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify. But Republican sources on Capitol Hill told CNN it's uncertain if the hearing will actually occur. Grassley has said that he has yet to hear back from Ford, and he told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show Tuesday that she has not accepted the request to appear before the committee.

Hill, in her op-ed, called the timing of the hearing "discouraging" and suggested more time for investigation.

"Simply put, a week's preparation is not enough time for meaningful inquiry into very serious charges," she said.

Additionally, as a ground rule for how to approach the matter, Hill said people should "refer to Christine Blasey Ford by her name."

"She was once anonymous, but no longer is. Dr. Blasey is not simply "Judge Kavanaugh's accuser," Hill wrote.

Ford's accusation against Kavanaugh has drawn a multitude of comparisons to the allegation of sexual harassment Hill came forward with against Thomas during his confirmation process. Hill, then a University of Oklahoma law professor, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was chaired at the time by then-Sen. Joe Biden, and said Thomas sexually harassed her when she worked with him at the Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Thomas denied the allegations and was confirmed to the bench.

Hill acknowledged the parallels in Tuesday's piece, taking the committee to task for not developing an effective "protocol" since the Thomas confirmation.

"That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement," Hill wrote.

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