Anita Hill, whose testimony against Clarence Thomas riveted the nation and sparked a nationwide conversation about workplace sexual harassment, offered a verdict on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I wouldn’t confirm him,” Hill said in remarks at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t, because I saw a demeanor that I think was inappropriate for a judge.”
Hill said Kavanaugh offered unsupported facts, avoided answering questions and seemingly blamed Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar for asking pointed questions about his drinking habits as a high school teenager, when he is accused sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a party.
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“Anyone who lies in a Senate Judiciary committee hearing should not be on the Supreme Court,” said Hill, who was asked to reflect on Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and whether she drew parallels to her own testimony 27 years ago.
The Kavanaugh hearing, in which Ford detailed her allegation of a sexual assault from when she and the judge were teenagers — a charge he denies — has brought Hill back to her own testimony. Hill said that while the process felt familiar, “but it didn’t feel like me.”
Although her testimony elevated awareness of workplace sexual harassment, Hill said that was not her intention. “I was testifying about the character of a person who was being considered for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” she said.
The question remains: whether the senators weighing Kavanaugh’s appointment care about his character.
“I have to say, for at least some of the senators, it didn’t seem to matter,” Hill said. “It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t seem to matter now.”
Hill had been living a quiet academic life at Brandeis University when reports that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had allegedly sexually assaulted and harassed scores of actresses brought her back into the spotlight.
She now leads the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, an initiative spearheaded by some of Hollywood’s most powerful players, which is searching for a way forward.
The commission is working to establish best practices for an industry rocked by sexual assault and harassment allegations; creating a safe reporting process for people to come forward, one that is well-resourced and has well trained investigators, and is transparent
“We believe we can set up a framework for reducing the amount of harassment,” Hill said. “And, we hope, will advance equality in other ways. We know greater diversity and greater equality in general will lead to a reduction in sexual harassment.”
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