Comparing the Anita Hill v.s. Thomas trial in 1991 with the Ford v.s. Kavanaugh trial in 2018
1991. Anita Hill, a professor at Brandeis at the time, testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas that he had sexually harassed her while she worked at the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1981 to 1983, where he was also her supervisor.
With tensions high, she claimed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, then comprised of 13 men, that Thomas had discussed inappropriate matters concerning his anatomy and the adult films he took interest in while alone in his office with Hill. She described them as being “very dirty, and very disgusting.”
The trial was broadcasted across multiple platforms, with many citizens of the United States tuning in to his hearing and her testimony. Ultimately, he was confirmed for the position by a 52-48 vote, and Anita Hill’s credibility was questioned by Thomas’ supporters, with many arguing that she was delusional.
2018. History repeated itself when professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to sexually assault her while both attended a high school party in the 1980s.
She testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, this time comprised of 17 men and four women.
“It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell you the truth.”. The Senate eventually voted, confirming Kavanaugh by a tally of 50-48.
Even though the two nominations were 27 years apart, both share uncanny similarities, the biggest difference between them, perhaps, is the political climate that surrounds each one.
History teacher Matthew LaConti followed the Anita Hill case closely while in college, and he recalled that “the accusation seemed to be a side issue to Thomas’ nomination.”. The absence of the #MeToo movement in the nineties most likely impacted some of the outcome of Anita Hill’s case, especially since the powerful movement helped bring sexual assault into the foreground. Without a platform like it, it might have been more challenging to gain support in favor of Hill.
Ford had plenty of support from the public, with sophomore Caroline French (who has watched the trial closely) saying that “People are starting to realize that women can stand up for what they believe in and people will start to listen to them”. She fell short in the trial the same way Anita Hill did in 1991, with only a slim margin of victory for the nominees.
Mr. LaConti sounded hopeful that people have become more concerned with equality rather than politics.
“A woman’s word has a greater power than it did almost 30 years ago.” sai LaConti when looking back at Anita Hill’s allegations.