Anita Hill calls on senators to be 'better' during Kavanaugh accuser's hearings

Anita Hill, the woman who in the 1990s accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to be “better” when it holds hearings for the woman who accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE’s court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault.

“It’s impossible to miss the parallels between the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing of 2018 and the 1991 confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas,” Hill, who is now a professor at Brandeis, writes in an op-ed for The New York Times published Tuesday. “In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court.


“It failed on both counts.”

Hill's urging comes just two days after Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, came forward publicly to The Washington Post and detailed her allegations against Kavanaugh for the first time. 

Kavanaugh has denied the accusations. 

After multiple senators voiced concerns about Ford's claims, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report Senate begins preparations for Trump trial MORE (R-Iowa) announced on Monday that Kavanaugh and Ford would testify before the committee next Monday.

Hill goes on to write that the public now expects “better” from its top government officials when such testimony takes place. She also charges that the Judiciary Committee still lacking 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.”

Hill later urges the Judiciary committee to follow a set of ground rules that will lead to a more effective hearing for Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed one summer while they were both in high school in the 1980s. 

Hill writes that the Judiciary committee, among other things, should refrain from “pitting the public interest in confronting sexual harassment against the need for a fair confirmation hearing.”

She also asks that the committee not rush the hearings, saying that it would not only display a lack of regard for sexual assault accusations but also lead to overlooking important facts.

“That the committee plans to hold a hearing this coming Monday is discouraging,” Hill writes, adding that a neutral investigative body should probe the charges. “Simply put, a week’s preparation is not enough time for meaningful inquiry into very serious charges. “

Hill then writes that the accuser should be referred to by her name rather than as "Kavanaugh's accuser," adding that it shows a level of respect Ford deserves.

"In 1991, the phrase 'they just don’t get it' became a popular way of describing senators’ reaction to sexual violence," Hill concludes. "With years of hindsight, mounds of evidence of the prevalence and harm that sexual violence causes individuals and our institutions, as well as a Senate with more women than ever, 'not getting it' isn’t an option for our elected representatives. In 2018, our senators must get it right."

Hill became a pivotal figure in 1991 when she testified against Thomas as he was being considered for the Supreme Court. Her testimony against him, in which she alleged that he made unwanted sexual advances, helped spark a movement that highlighted harassment in the workplace.