An hour before it started to rain, a crowd of women gathered Thursday on Capitol Hill just before the much-anticipated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Of several late-breaking accusations leveled against Kavanaugh, only one—the claim by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teens—was the subject of the committee hearing.
The women who attended the Concerned Women for America’s rally for Kavanaugh didn’t come to protest Kavanaugh; they mostly came to support him.
Many wore shirts or buttons boldly declaring, “I stand with Brett” or “Confirm Brett Kavanaugh.”
The women were of different ethnicities, ages, occupations, and parts of the country. Some had definite opinions about the accused and the accusers; others did not. But what united them was a common desire to hear one another out, even if they didn’t exactly agree on everything.
Taking a break from listening to each other, eight women shared their thoughts and feelings on the accused, the accusers, and the #MeToo movement with The Daily Signal.
- ‘We’ve seen how accusations can destroy people’s lives.’
Sonia Casey, a real estate investor from Fort Washington, Maryland, describes herself as a “very conservative Republican.”
Casey, 55, came to the rally to support Kavanaugh and thinks he is “a good example to our kids,” referencing his previously spotless record.
“We’ve seen unjust accusations all day,” she laments to The Daily Signal, adding that the accusations “make no sense” in the context of everything else she knows about Kavanaugh.
But the accusations against Kavanaugh matter to Casey at a deeper level: She says she is a survivor of sexual assault.
“I want to believe it, because I’ve been through it at 4 years old,” she says, but not without qualification. “I’m a woman, so I’ll support women, but we’ve seen how accusations can destroy people’s lives.”
When asked what she thinks is motivating the allegations, she shrugs and replies: “The accusations are due to money floating around.”
- ‘What the Salem witch trials did.’
Gail Weiss isn’t shy about calling herself “Jewish and conservative.” She also isn’t shy about telling people why she attended the rally today either.
Weiss, who describes herself as a “concerned citizen,” seems sold on Kavanaugh’s legal expertise.
“I’m a big fan of the Constitution,” she says, “and he seems to be protecting it, so that’s why I would like to see him on the Supreme Court.”
“I am here because the fascists who oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh on the mere basis of totally unsubstantiated allegations are leading us down [the wrong path],” Weiss tells The Daily Signal.
She describes the path the country is on as “the path of the Martin Niemöller quote from World War II, except now you can replace the first line with ‘First they came for Brett Kavanaugh.’”
The Bethesda, Maryland, native says she sees a clear relationship between the Kavanaugh allegations and those lodged against Bill Clinton in the 1990s; she errs on the side of caution when speaking about the truthfulness of Kavanaugh’s accusers.
“It’s not what I think, it’s what proof has been shown so far,” she says. “If they show proof, I will believe proof. So far there has not been any proof. There is no blue dress with any DNA on it.”
But she warns:
If there is no proof, then it is utterly antithetical to a democratic republic to convict someone even in the court of public opinion, to convict someone solely on an allegation. That was what the Salem witch trials did.
Weiss says she sees a further connection between the #MeToo movement and the persecution of straight, white, Christian males, although she thinks that all men, not just those in that category, “should be very, very concerned.”
- ‘#MeToo … never helped the victims of Bill Clinton’
Juanita Broaddrick needs no introduction to those who have followed her story since 1999, when she accused President Bill Clinton of having raped her 21 years earlier–in 1978, when he was Arkansas attorney general.
Now 75, Broaddrick didn’t hesitate in stating that she was “here to point out the double standard we have” with regard to how her charges and Ford’s allegations have been treated.
“They refused to see, or even look at my records,” she says of Democrat lawmakers in an interview with The Daily Signal:
Not one Democrat would read this. They wanted nothing to do with it. And now they’re here with sketchy and vague allegations against Brett Kavanaugh? This is a travesty, this is not right.
But the Van Buren, Arkansas, resident has a unique if fraught relationship with the #MeToo movement. On one hand she is a perfect example of how men may have abused their power to take advantage of women and get away with it; on the other, politicians no longer are interested in pursuing her allegations against a former president.
When asked about the #MeToo movement, Broaddrick responds:
I don’t have any idea … as far as if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m sure the #MeToo [movement] has helped people, but it never helped the victims of Bill Clinton. It wanted nothing to do with us.”
Broaddrick notes that upon finding out that Time magazine was awarding the movement its coveted “Person of the Year” honor, “I was kind of excited.”
So excited that she gave a favorable comment to the publication, expecting it to appear in the next issue. But when she read the article, her comments were absent.
“I was told there were so many comments, they couldn’t include mine,” she says, incredulously. “That’s why I don’t support #MeToo.”
- ‘It does not reflect well on the #MeToo movement, and it shouldn’t.’
Ingrid Mendez, 55, is an urban planner and real estate agent. She doesn’t consider herself a partisan.
“I consider myself a centrist Republican,” she says, indicating that she attended the rally to support President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
When asked why she supports Kavanaugh, the Alexandria, Virginia, native makes it clear that she backs him “because I believe in him and his integrity.”
For that reason, she finds the accusers’ claims to be unbelievable, saying, “How convenient for the letters to come up three days before [Kavanaugh was supposed to be confirmed]. It’s an outrage.”
But tells The Daily Signal that she also has serious doubts about the allegations, owing to how they were made.
“I didn’t believe her because of her lack of clarity,” she says of Ford, referencing her belief that clarity is a hallmark of the memories of sexual assault survivors.
Mendez says the fallout from the allegations will ultimately hurt actual survivors of sexual assault:
Unfortunately, it does not reflect well on the #MeToo movement and it shouldn’t. I back the #MeToo movement because they seem to have legitimate claims, and this woman’s claims are laughable.
- ‘ #MeToo Movement just a sham for people denying truth.’
Satya Ath is 18. She identifies as a conservative and interns at Regnery Publishing, a conservative publisher.
Ath, who came to Washington from Temecula, California, says she attended the rally because Kavanaugh, whose reputation and character she respects, is not receiving the justice he deserves.
Ath says she sees a double standard in the amount of attention and credibility the media has given Kavanaugh’s accusers.
“I feel it’s wrong that her voice is heard and Kavanaugh isn’t,” she tells The Daily Signal.
“I do not find any of his accusers credible,” Ath says, “especially because … Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in her polygraph test doesn’t match the letter she gave [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein.”
In light of these discrepancies, Ath accuses the #MeToo movement of using Kavanaugh’s accusers to achieve larger political ends.
Ath says that most of her private Christian school classmates are supportive of Kavanaugh, but “in a lot of public schools and college campuses, many girls do not understand that the #MeToo movement is just a sham for people denying truth.”
- ‘We should respect the humanity … before we go making judgments.’
Margaret McCampbell, 67, isn’t a Republican. She’s not even from the East Coast.
She’s a self-described “Californian at heart,” even though she’s lived in Baltimore for over 50 years.
“I wouldn’t say I’m conservative, I tend to lean liberal,” the retired community college professor says. “I just want to hear what everyone has to say, because I think we need to listen to what everyone has to say.”
That said, McCampbell also says she is a registered Democrat, even though she’s a moderate. “In Maryland, you have to be,” she says of her party affiliation.
McCampbell works as a volunteer at the Library of Congress, and says she ended up at this particular pro-Kavanaugh gathering because she saw the people on her way to work.
“I like to read the news,” she says in an interview with The Daily Signal, “but I just wanted to hear and look at the people. I want to see who’s here.”
But her interest isn’t in Kavanaugh and the surrounding controversy. She’s more concerned about sexual assault and misconduct in less rarified areas of life than the Supreme Court.
She explains: “Yesterday I was listening on the radio to a panel of high school students and they were talking about this whole culture of high school athletes … I’m more interested in that.”
McCampbell notes that she was particularly inspired the other day by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who emphasized the humanity of both Kavanaugh and his accuser.
“We should respect the humanity in those people before we go making judgment,” she says.
“I can believe that a woman who was assaulted 30 years ago would just come out about now,” she says, pointing to Bill Cosby’s accusers as her case in point. “People blew them off. But now they found out there’s credibility there.”
- ‘This whole thing is a desperate act.’
“I would consider myself pretty conservative, I always vote Republican,” Debbie Martin says, with some confidence.
“I’m here because I hate seeing what’s happening to Judge Kavanaugh,” says Martin, who is in her 40s. “I think that if we don’t move forward with a vote, that it is setting a really dangerous precedent for this country that you can ruin someone’s life and career with one accusation. I don’t believe in that. I believe in [the principle of] innocent until proven guilty and I just don’t like this.”
“I would never say that something did not happen because I don’t know,” the Alexandria native says, but adds that she finds Kavanaugh’s accusers, Ford in particular, lacking in credibility because of the lack of corroborating evidence.
“I think it’s bad for true sexual assault victims too,” she notes, “because it can make them unsure about coming out if they’ve really been attacked because of this display on both sides.”
Asked about why she thinks the accusers and the Democrats have come forward with the allegations now, she says:
I just think that this whole thing is a desperate act. I think that the Democrats don’t really care whether he’s guilty or innocent, I think they only care about keeping him off the Supreme Court at all costs.
She says she thinks the trouble with Kavanaugh signals a larger cultural and political trend.
“I think the #MeToo movement has been kind of hijacked by the Democrats in a way. It started out for a good cause, but now it’s turned into a political tool to use against people who don’t agree with you.
“That’s very sad and discouraging,” she concludes.
- ‘I do believe women, but I also believe men too.’
Clare Ath is a 22-year-old millennial from the suburbs of Chicago. She now lives in the nation’s capital and works as a campus outreach coordinator for the National Review Institute.
Ath, no relation to Satya Ath, says she attended the rally because Kavanaugh has been an important subject of late to National Review.
“I should come and show my support,” she tells The Daily Signal, “primarily because I do believe women, but I also believe men too.”
“I think that a lot of what’s happening right now is media hyperbole, and people are getting away from the facts and the actual accusations that we do have,” she adds.
Ath says she doesn’t believe the women’s accusations because they are inconsistent and not particular. She says this is in stark contrast to Kavanaugh’s denials, which are so specific that they put him in legal jeopardy:
What he’s saying is that he unequivocally denies these accusations, meaning that he’s putting himself at risk for perjury if anything does comes out. That’s something a lot more people should be talking about.
Ath says she thinks the #MeToo movement and the Kavanaugh allegations are connected, even if the former is a positive development. Likening #MeToo to her all-girls college in Indiana, she notes the institution was pro-woman, “but in a way that I felt was antithetical to its purpose.”
“The #MeToo movement is good because there are problems that need to be addressed and women need to be treated equally,” she says.
She emphasizes that “we should be pursuing people … who’ve actually done bad things, not taking a lawyer who has had an impeccable career and making him out to be the boogeyman,” adding:
I think a lot of people are identifying with their own personal experiences, and putting that on Brett Kavanaugh. They want to view him as the bad guy because they want to punish someone in their lives who has wronged them.
She recounts how she marked herself as going to this event on Facebook, only to receive angry reactions from women she went to college with.
“They don’t know Brett Kavanaugh,” she says.