The University of Michigan Law School community organized a rally of more than 70 students and faculty member called “Respect Women, Respect Survivors and Respect the Court” Friday in support of survivors of sexual assault at the conclusion of a week highly focused on the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegations.
Kavanaugh was publicly accused of sexual assault in September by Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. The confirmation hearing concluded Friday afternoon, after beginning on Thursday with testimonies from Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh and questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The official Senate vote is scheduled for next Friday after a week-long investigation is conducted by the FBI.
On Friday afternoon, the Law School held a panel with law professors Kate Andrias, Barbara McQuade and Margo Schlanger discussing the effects of the widespread attention to the case on campus, especially for survivors of sexual assault, as well as the institutional legitimacy of the Supreme Court in light of the circumstances. According to Law student organizer Julia Adams, an audience member suggested a rally for the following day.
Adams said two anonymous Law professors donated money for posters and markers. The rally was held to show solidarity to survivors on campus and across the nation.
“This was an organic thing,” Adams said. “There was a panel at the Law School yesterday for some of the professors to explain the effects that this nomination and possible conformation can have — on the Supreme Court, survivors, the #MeToo movement, everything.”
Adams discussed the importance of interpreting this case and overarching debate as a non-partisan issue, and rather a discussion of morality in general.
“Our main goal is to show support for survivors, this is a very non-partisan group,” Adams said. “We really want it to be known that it doesn’t matter if you’re left or right-wing as far as politics, this is way beyond that. We just really want to support survivors and do something tangible to demonstrate our support for them, and also tell Congress and the White House that this nomination is not okay. There’s plenty of other conservative justices that can be nominated.”
Law professor Sonja Starr connected the Kavanaugh case with institutional inequality for minorities citing the data that juvenile offenders, especially African Americans and Hispanics, are often sentenced for mistakes they made in their youth, at a much higher rate than white counterparts of the same crime.
“Nobody has the right to be believed over other because of pedigree, or because of their gender,” Starr said. “Those who do not have the same background as Brett Kavanaugh don’t have the same forgiveness in their youthful indiscretions.”
Public Policy graduate student Eleanor Delamater described the importance of holding individuals with positions in public office accountable for their actions.
“I’ve been watching the testimony all week, I’ve been paying very close attention to it. I don’t like the lack of accountability that I think senators and those in Washington have been holding themselves to, and holding their colleagues to,” Delamater said. “If they’re not going to listen to compelling testimony from Christine Blasey-Ford, then we need to compel them, and show them that people believe her. That people believe survivors in general.”