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Harvard’s Jill Lepore Reflects on What Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford Testimony Says About the U.S.

Historians in the News
tags: SCOTUS, Brett Kavanaugh



NPR's Audie Cornish talks with historian Jill Lapore about how the testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday fits into the larger American culture.

JILL LEPORE: What's strange about that moment and one of the things that we forget about what it means then to bring these matters of sexual power and sexual violence to a national stage before a live television audience is that that happens because women don't achieve political equality.

I mean, the Anita Hill testimony in 1991 takes place in the aftermath of the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment. So in some ways, that public stage becomes the place where women are trying to continue that fight for equal rights. And it's a very difficult and I think extraordinarily painful place to wage such a battle.

AUDIE CORNISH: To bring it forward, how has the #MeToo movement influenced public reaction to this conversation?

LEPORE: I think the #MeToo movement has polarized public conversation. What's so explosive about the testimony in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing is that a long-view history of the Supreme Court has been forgotten. And we now I think almost seem to believe that the public opinion should decide who is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. That's not in fact the arrangement under the Constitution. We don't decide - we don't elect judges. That's a thing that some places do do.

We have lifetime appointments. And the judge's private lives are supposed to be kind of kept from public view because the judges are not supposed to be accountable to public opinion. We are - in some ways I think have so failed to fully address the matter of women's equality before the law that we are now using the Supreme Court nomination process as a place to have that conversation. And it changes what that process is about.

Read entire article at NPR

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