I ran for the Senate because of what I saw happen to Anita Hill. I am a Senator now and fighting to make sure it doesn’t happen again

After the Senate and the all-male Judiciary Committee bungled the Anita Hill hearings in 1991, millions of women across the country, including me, were inspired to rise up and fight for change. I had hoped that 27 years later the Senate would do better than it did back then, but I am very afraid that Senate Republican leaders and the men who make up their side of the Judiciary Committee are leading us down the exact same path, and in many ways, an even worse one.

Just like what happened to Professor Hill in 1991, Dr. Ford is being disrespected and disbelieved. One current member of the Judiciary Committee who led the attacks on Professor Hill in 1991 is already saying that Dr. Ford is ‘mixed up’ and that he believes Judge Kavanaugh without even hearing from Dr. Ford or other witnesses. Another member of the Committee said this is ‘a drive by shooting’ of Kavanaugh and that, while he was willing to ‘listen to the lady,’ his priority was ‘bringing this to a close.’ Other Republicans have similarly come out and pushed to move quickly to jam this through, with no regard for Dr. Ford and no regard for learning the actual information she has to share.

Just like what happened to Professor Hill in 1991, Dr. Ford is being pressured into coming to a hearing just days after her story came out publicly in an attempt to jam a Supreme Court nominee onto the bench.

But as bad as 1991 was, at least the White House asked the FBI to investigate Professor Hill’s allegations promptly after learning of them. Twenty seven years later, Republican leaders and President Trump are trying to block that for Dr. Ford.

As bad as 1991 was, at least a few corroborating witnesses were allowed for Professor Hill, even if that process ended up running far from smoothly. Twenty seven years later, Republican leaders are trying to block that for Dr. Ford.

And as bad as 1991 was, at least Senators understood that they had to engage with Professor Hill herself and do their jobs as Senators in the hearing, even if ultimately their attempts to do so were inappropriate, insensitive, and poorly executed. Twenty seven years later, Republican leaders are reported to be working on ways to push female staffers into the questioning role that Senators should perform, in order to prevent the political nightmare they know could come from their all-male Judiciary Committee members attacking Dr. Ford themselves and trying to impugn her experience and her character.

We have heard Dr. Ford bravely talk about her experience of being sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh when she was 15 years old, and now we are seeing Dr. Ford being attacked once again — this time by Republican leaders intent on protecting Judge Kavanaugh and putting him on the Supreme Court no matter what. Republican leaders should be ashamed of themselves for demanding that Dr. Ford show up at a time and place they have chosen for political reasons, on extreme short notice, without any fair investigation having been done, without any additional relevant witnesses being called, and while she and her family are in hiding and facing death threats. She has made it clear that she is willing to testify, so there is absolutely no reason for Senate Republicans to try to bully her or attack her for very reasonably requesting a basic level of fair treatment and human decency.

The attacks and threats against Dr. Ford are horrific and they are exactly the reason why she, and so many women in her position, are hesitant to speak up. Senate Republicans are sending women across the country who may have more experiences to share about Judge Kavanaugh or anyone else a loud and clear message: if you have been assaulted or harassed by someone powerful, you better not talk about it or you’re going to pay a price. But I want her and every other woman to know: I stand with you, I believe you, I will fight for you and against those intent on tearing you down — and I know millions of women and men across the country will as well.

The goal of Republican leaders couldn’t be clearer, and couldn’t be more wrong: They view this as the way to get Judge Kavanaugh confirmed as quickly as possible, not a process for allowing the Senate to conduct fair investigations and hearings and perform its constitutional advice and consent role. Republican leaders have absolutely no reason to rush this — except politics.

Dr. Ford has spoken clearly, and she should be listened to, believed, and treated with decency and respect. She has said she is willing to testify, and Republican leaders should do the right thing and delay this hearing, allow a fair and full investigation, and only then move forward with fair hearings that include all relevant witnesses. If they don’t then women and men across the country will see this for exactly what it is.

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Senator Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray

Official account of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)