Mormon women speak out about the Brett Kavanaugh proceedings

As Mormon women (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we feel an obligation to speak out about the Brett Kavanaugh proceedings and, specifically, to address the four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who share our faith: Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Jeff Flake, and Senator Mike Crapo.

We know that many people close to Brett Kavanaugh describe him as a kind, caring, judicious family man. But allegations of sexual assault are serious — no matter when they happened — especially for someone who is being considered for a lifelong appointment to the highest court of the land. Such allegations must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. If we brush them aside, or minimize them, or excuse them away because “he was young” or “he was drunk,” we are sending an appalling and incredibly damaging message to both the young women AND the young men of our country.

Senators Hatch, Lee, Flake, and Crapo, we ask you to send a different kind of message. Send the message, loud and clear, that the objectification and abuse of women for the pleasure of men is contemptible and will not be tolerated, that our actions have consequences, that victims must be heard and supported, and that, in America, we expect those who serve in positions of trust to be exemplary individuals in every regard. Send this message by insisting on a full, independent investigation of these charges before a confirmation vote takes place.

Let us be clear. We are not making the assumption that the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez are true. What we are saying is that they must be looked into. And if they do turn out to be true, Kavanaugh must not be confirmed. Period.

Some have argued that, even if the allegations are true, these incidents happened over 30 years ago, and people can change. Yes, people can change. Our faith teaches and we wholeheartedly believe that people can repent and can be forgiven. But repentance involves acknowledgement, accountability, and apology, not persistent denial. If Kavanaugh did what he has been accused of doing, he has had over three decades to try to atone for these acts of violence against another human being, and he has done nothing.

As your constituents, your neighbors, and your sisters in the gospel, we ask you to give sincere consideration to the message you are communicating through your participation in the Kavanaugh confirmation process. This is not just about Judge Kavanaugh. This is about how men treat women in our society, particularly men who hold positions of power. We know you are familiar with the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob, who describes the Lord’s habitude of listening to women when they underwent abuse or degradation: “For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people” (Jacob 2:31). We are asking you to witness that pain and recognize that there is more at stake here than a Supreme Court seat.

Concerning Dr. Blasey Ford, she has every right to ask for certain conditions before she testifies before a body where the balance of power is seriously stacked against her and where certain members of that body have apparently already made up their minds before even hearing her testimony. Senator Graham, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee said, for example: “I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close.” And Senator Hatch, also on the Committee, said, “I think this woman, whoever she is, is mixed up.”

And some wonder why Dr. Blasey Ford might be reluctant to testify before these men without pre-set conditions?

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted last Friday that Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court “in the very near future” and that the Republicans are going to “plow right through.”

Plow right through?

Plow right through and completely disregard these allegations? Plow right through despite the fact that Kavanaugh, a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States of America, may possibly have assaulted and violated the agency of another human being and harassed and exposed himself to another with absolutely no show of remorse?

That would be plowing right through careful vetting processes that have typically succeeded in placing women and men of high caliber on the court. It would mean plowing through concepts of justice, representation, and the Senate’s own pivotal role of providing advice and consent on behalf of the nation.

Senators, we ask you to stop that plow. Stop pushing forward despite the clear objections of Dr. Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and millions of other women across the country. Women comprise half of your constituents. If you truly respect women, then demonstrate it by honoring our requests to go slowly here. The appalling audacity of some of your colleagues in declaring their intention to simply take this seat with or without the broad support of women everywhere is just as troubling as the allegations against Kavanaugh. In fact, the irony is chilling.

We cannot continue to jeopardize the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in order to rack up political wins. Any political advantage this strategy secures in the short term will be overwhelmingly outweighed by the long-term loss of faith and confidence in our various branches of government and our inspired system of checks and balances.

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Sharlee Mullins Glenn, Diana Bate Hardy, Linda Hoffman Kimball, and Jennifer Walker Thomas are leaders of Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG), a nonpartisan grassroots organization of over 6,000 women dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency, and justice in governing.

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