Supreme Court

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    Donald Trump Jr. spoke to DailyMailTV about Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, saying that the current climate of #MeToo makes him nervous for his sons, The Cut reports.

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    In a joint interview with his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, during a campaign swing for GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, Trump Jr. said, “I’ve got boys and I’ve got girls. When I see what’s going on right now, it’s scary for all things.” When asked whether he was more scared for his sons or daughters, the president’s ‘First Boy’ retorted, “Right now, I’d say my sons.”

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    His mansplaining didn’t cease there as he continued, “For the people who are real victims of these things, when it is so obviously political in cases like this, it really diminishes the real claims.” In reality, research has shown that false reporting accounts for just between 2 and 10 percent of sexual assault allegations. Guilfoyle went on to add, “I think it’s important, in terms of doing an investigation, to get the facts out there and find out. But, people need to be careful to understand the politics involved as well and what motivations people may have.”

    Motivations? Like Dr. Blasey’s motivation to offer testimony, at the risk of her personal livelihood, to help government leaders decide whether to grant an alleged sexual predator a lifetime position to the highest court in the nation? Guilfoyle's questioning of people's "motivations" reads as a passive agressive attempt to discredit Dr. Blasey and trauma victims as a whole. 

    Trump and Guilfoyle’s shoddy justifications, in their sympathy for those accused, are not surprising considering over 20 women have accused the president of sexual assault. Additionally, Guilfoyle left her hosting job at Fox News over allegations of sexual misconduct in which she was reportedly “showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were).” 

    If Donald Trump Jr. is so concerned for his son's futures amid the #MeToo era, he should consider taking the time to teach them about appropriate behavior and boundaries towards women. It's really not that hard, Don. 

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    Header photo via Sebastian Vital on Flickr 

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    In an unsurprising but immensely saddening move, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court this weekend. 

    Saturday afternoon’s vote was exemplary of the nation’s sharp, partisan state; Senate members voted 50-48, almost totally along party lines, and in one of the slimmest majorities in the Court’s history, the New York Times reports. During the call, protesters could be heard shouting, “Shame!” from the Senate gallery. On the Senate building steps, protesters raised signs and voices.

    The nomination was rushed with unprecedented speed after the gut-wrenching testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Her hours-long testimony was a landmark moment in both American gender politics and the #MeToo movement. Kavanaugh’s confirmation was a bitter fight, evoking the events of 1991, when law professor Anita F. Hill accused then-Judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

    In the weeks leading up to Kavanaugh’s vote, hundreds of women were galvanized to descend onto Capitol Hill, directly confronting Republican senators. In the face of such protests, the confirmation sends a clear, cruel message that their voices were not acknowledged.

    According to NPR, while en route in Force One to a political rally, Trump said he was "very, very, very happy" about the vote and said Kavanaugh—a man accused of sexual assault by three separate women—will be "a brilliant Supreme Court justice for many years."

    In the debate preceding Saturday's roll call, senators were alternately defensive and disgusted. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Kavanaugh a victim of "an ugly left-wing smear campaign."

    Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who was first elected in the wake of Anita Hill’s testimony, said that confirming Kavanaugh is akin to showing young girls and women that "your voices just don't matter."

    Special attention had been on Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the sole GOP supporters of abortion rights capable of keeping Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court. Protesters called on her to vote “no.” She did not. Instead, she delivered to the Senate a 45-minute defense of her decision.

    “We’ve heard a lot of charges and countercharges about Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins said. “But as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband and father.” The political ramifications for her vote are steep. Collins is up for re-election in 2020, and many voters view her actions as a betrayal of women’s rights.

    Before the vote, demonstrators had broken through barriers around the Capitol, attempting to climb the building's steps. Women occupied the Contemplation of Justice statue in front of the Supreme Court, bearing the hashtag #MeToo on signs. 

    According to U.S. Capitol Police, 164 people were arrested. In the morning after Kavanaugh’s confirmation there is a feeling of national mourning. Mourning for the survivor, disregarded once again; for the unfortunate reality of the Supreme Court as just another stage for partisan machinations. 

    So, feel what you need—anger, outrage, disbelief—and prepare for the battle ahead: the midterm elections.

    Top photo: Wikimedia Commons 

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    Over the weekend, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing just got more complicated: another woman has come forward with accusations of sexual assault. On Sunday night, The New Yorker reported the account of Deborah Ramirez, a domestic abuse advocate who attended Yale with Kavanaugh. According to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer's report, Kavanaugh exposed himself to Ramirez and demanded she "kiss it" during a drinking game during freshman year, to the ridicule of male onlookers.

    The Democratic Senate offices believe the allegations merit further investigation. “This is another serious, credible, and disturbing allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. It should be fully investigated,” Senator Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, told The New Yorker. Of the four Democratic senators to receive information about the allegation, at least two are investigating it.

    Kavanaugh’s rebuttal was swift: “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, a defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.”

    In the face of mounting accusations, the White House has (unsurprisingly) only strengthened their support of Kavanaugh.

    White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said, “This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say.”

    To call these claims, “uncorroborated,” though, isn’t quite accurate. The New Yorker contacted dozens of former classmates, to mixed results. One identified source reported that he was “‘one-hundred-per-cent sure’ that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez,” and independently corroborated many of the same details reported by Ramirez.

    The report continues: 
“Another former classmate, Richard Oh, an emergency-room doctor in California, recalled overhearing, soon after the party, a female student tearfully recounting to another student an incident at a party involving a gag with a fake penis, followed by a male student exposing himself.”

    One of the male classmates accused of egging Kavanaugh on at the party to expose himself also gaves his take:

    I don’t think Brett would flash himself to Debbie, or anyone, for that matter,” he said. Asked why he thought Ramirez was making the allegation, he responded, “I have no idea.”

    Mark Judge, a conservative writer, recently emerged as a prominent witness and defender of Kavanaugh. In her initial report, Ford accused Judge of being in the room during her assault, “alternately urging Kavanaugh to 'go for it' and to 'stop.'’ Judge has claimed “no resolution” of the event.

    In Sunday night’s New Yorker article, 
Kavanaugh’s ex-girlfriend of three years, Elizabeth Rasor, gave a more damning take on Judge. Rasor named him as Kavanaugh’s accomplice during the parties, claiming Judge told her “ashamedly about an incident in which he and other boys took turns having sex with a drunk woman.” Kavanaugh was not presumed to be present at this incident, but Rasor’s account is being taken seriously.

    Nearly an hour after the article went live, attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted a screenshot of an email in he claimed to have “significant evidence” that Judge, Kavanaugh, and friends would “participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.” He wrote, "I represent a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. We will be demanding the opportunity to present testimony to the committee and will likewise be demanding that Judge and others be subpoenaed to testify. The nomination must be withdrawn," and clarified that his client isn't Ramirez.

     Judge’s attorney said that he “categorically denies” Rasor’s report. 

    Christine Blasey Ford has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. In light of Sunday's report, the pressure on Kavanaugh can only rise. 

     

    Top Image: Wikimedia Commons  

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    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been hospitalized with three broken ribs, following a fall in her Supreme Court office Wednesday, reports CNN. According to the Court’s statement, RBG reported discomfort after returning home and was admitted the next morning to George Washington University “for observation and treatment." 

    Immediately, devotees of Notorious RBG—as she is fondly know— offered their own ribs and threatened to sequester RBG in a 20-foot-thick bubble wrap for the next two years. Panic jokes aside, the alarm is valid: at 85, she’s the court’s oldest member and has already overcome a lengthy resume of ailments.

    In November 2014, she underwent a procedure to have a stent placed in her heart’s right coronary artery. In 2009, she was treated for pancreatic cancer, and in 1999, only six years after being sworn in to the court, she underwent surgery to treat colon cancer. 

    Ginsburg is only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Her outspoken stance—in 2016 she called Trump a “faker”—and liberal dissents (not to mention her impressive workout regimen) have made her a progressive icon. At an event in Washington in mid-August, she told the crowd she had "about at least five more years" left on court. 

    Long live RBG, may you guide us to brighter times (AKA, 2020).  

    Top Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing

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    Just one day after swearing in accused sexual abuser Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is back at it with a harmful order—and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan have something to say about it in a powerful dissent.

    Unlike many other states, North Dakota does not have any form of voter registration. Instead, there’s currently a lower-court order that mandates all voters in North Dakota arrive at the polls with certain specific forms of ID, including proof of residence. This order blocks around 20% of the state’s voters from casting their ballots in November, Ginsburg noted in her dissent, and disproportionately impacts the state’s large Native population, since many Native Americans living in North Dakota have different forms of identification without street addresses.

    In the words of the Native Americans Rights Fund, “the U.S. postal service does not provide residential delivery in these rural Indian communities. Thus, most tribal members use a PO Box. If a tribal ID has an address, it is typically a PO Box address, which does not satisfy North Dakota’s restrictive voter ID law.”

    This is a problem that could have lasting effects for North Dakota and for America: as Mother Jones reported, Senator Heidi Heitkamp is “considered the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate,” and won her seat by a margin of under 3,000 votes six years ago. Heitkamp has been consistently critical of these voter ID laws for awhile: in an interview last May with The West Fargo Pioneer, she called the legislation “unnecessary” and argued that the order was meant to “clearly target” the Native American population of North Dakota. 

    Republicans supporting the order claim that it helps fight voter fraud—but as Mother Jones wote, in-person fraud is very rare, and as Heitkamp told the Pioneer, there’s no evidence that voter fraud of any kind is a problem in North Dakota. In a 2006 letter, as shared by the NARF, North Dakota Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger explicitly wrote that “during my fourteen years as…the state’s chief election officer, my office has not referred any cases of voter fraud to the United States Attorney, the North Dakota Attorney General, or to local prosecutors. We haven’t had any to refer.”

    In her dissent, Ginsburg wrote:

    “The Eighth Circuit observed that voters have a month to ‘adapt’ to the new regime. But that observation overlooks specific factfindings by the District Court: (1) 70,000 North Dakota residents—almost 20% of the turnout in a regular quadrenial election—lack a qualifying ID; and (2) approximately 18,000 North Dakota residents also lack supplemental documentation sufficient to permit them to vote without a qualifying ID.”

    If you live in North Dakota—or anywhere in the U.S.—you can find everything you need to know about your local voting laws and registration deadlines on Vote.org.

    Top photo via Flickr Creative Commons / Wake Forest University School Of Law

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    Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, finding that the baker from Masterpiece Cakeshop maintained the legal right to deny a product to customers if it violates his religious beliefs—welcome to Pride Month, everybody! Who you are as a person is now legally viewed as violating someone’s religious beliefs. 

    This ruling comes just three years and a few weeks off from the court’s landmark 5-4 decision making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. While the marriage equality law was viewed as an enormous success for same-sex couples in terms of their new legal standings, this moment also marked a momentous day for LGBTQ people in terms of respect. On that day, most of us celebrated the idea that our country was finally starting to view us as equal and deserving of the same civil liberties as the rest of the nation. It was a humanizing day. 

    Although history tends to move in a three steps forward, two steps back cycle, this moment in US history feels particularly painful. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy attempted to assuage gay America and our allies by stating that there are two opposing conflicts in the case: one being the need “to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services,” and the other being the free exercising of religion as protected by the First Amendment. Kennedy attempts to make us believe that our country cares about minority citizens, while ultimately siding with religious freedom. While the Supreme Court may be able to decipher the nuances between these two areas, voting in favor of exercising religion freedom in this particular case seems like a slippery slope in our already intolerant climate. Hate crimes have been on the rise for LGBTQ and HIV+ populations since 2016, and last year, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program reported an 86% rise in homicides resulting from anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the past year. LGBTQ advocate and Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Riven also worries about the ruling, saying in a statement, "The Court today has offered dangerous encouragement to those who would deny civil rights to LGBT people and people living with HIV. "

    We are who we are, and to have to be shamed and discriminated against to honor someone else’s belief system shows that our country and court system still does not understand that for LGBTQ people, our lives are not a choice. 

    This latest legal action by the Supreme Court sends the message that discrimination under the guise of a religious belief is more valuable than respecting actual human beings. While religious beliefs should be respected, it’s a confusing message to show Americans that a belief system is more valuable than a person. What continues to be so deeply upsetting to myself and other LGBTQ people is that a religious conviction is a choice in a way that sexuality orientation or gender identity expression is not. You can change your religious ideology at anytime, you can grow up and leave the church you came from, you can join a new sect, you can take your time learning about other religious and figuring out what religion is right for you if you so choose, however, we LGBTQ people cannot simply change our mind on who we are. We can’t leave ourselves or run away to a new gender identify or sexual orientation, despite the majority of us attempting to do just that at some point in our lives. We are who we are, and to have to be shamed and discriminated against to honor someone else’s belief system shows that our country and court system still does not understand that for LGBTQ people, our lives are not a choice.

    In our already Gideon-leaning country, I assume this decision will only lead to more violence and more discrimination. I would have hoped the courts would have viewed this case through a more nuanced lens of the times in which we live. I worry about what’s next for legal discrimination under the catch-all of "religious belief."

    Photo credit: Wedding Organizer/Pexels.com

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    In the aftermath of the 1991 testimony by Anita Hill—in which she alleged sexual harassment by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas—a landmark piece of legislation was passed: The Violence Against Women Act. 

    Now, during the painfully familiar testimony of Christine Ford Blasley against Brett Kavanaugh, that same legislation faces peril. 

    The VAWA is slated to expire in December, and without bipartisan action, thousands of victims face limited social services, slashed funding, and loss of protections for vulnerable LGBQT folks and women of color.

    In 1994, the law was authored by then-Sen. Joe Biden and enacted and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It was a pioneering piece of federal legislation: the first to combat domestic violence as a serious crime. Its original iteration funded social agencies that support survivors of assault and domestic violence. Two decades have seen significant expansion: it now funds rape crisis centers and legal-assistance centers, provides grants for specialized law enforcement training and college-assault prevention services. 

    The VAWA is directly responsible for the creation of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If expired, not only will those programs be effected, but victims living in public housing will lose protections against abusers. Currently, domestic violence victims are granted penalty-free transfer between apartments. Law enforcement is currently permitted to remove firearms from domestic abusers who are not legally allowed to own them.

    The stakes are impossibly high: In the U.S., 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted every year. 1 in 4 women are the victims of domestic abuse. A woman is killed by a domestic partner with a gun every 16 hours.

    The era of #MeToo provides a tragic backdrop for the situation. Is there a greater declaration of indifference to the plight of surviors than letting VAWA expire? As of September 25th, zero Republican lawmaker have signed their support to reauthorize the legislation. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has not called for a vote on a complete reauthorization of VAWA—despite reports that 46 members of his own party requested it.

    VAWA was originally intended to expire at the end of September, but Congress submitted a short-term extension of the current legislation into a must-pass continuing resolution that kept the government funded until December the 7th. The 2018 proposal would include increased funding for a both Rape Prevention & Education Program and a youth-based prevention education for boys to teach about healthy relationships. 

    "We're really hoping Congress takes seriously the importance of reauthorizing it with some key enhancements that we're collectively asking for and a three-month extension does not get that work done," Terri Poore, policy director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, told the Washington Post.

    As the GOP rushes to confirm Kavanaugh, this non-action is indicative of a malignant mentality: sexual assault and domestic abuse are survivors are not a priority.   

    Top photo: Wikimedia Commons

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    We are 47 days out from one of the most important elections of our lifetimes, and there is a lot on the line. Despite how fond (or not) you may be of Joe Biden, one thing is for sure: the courts may never be the same if he loses. The "Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital" freakout is such a well-recognized feeling among left-leaning folks that it has become a meme. Bader Ginsburg is a national treasure, of course, but we deserve better. The moral balance of a nation should not solely depend on one 87-year-old woman. This is precisely why the next Supreme Court nomination is so deeply important. Last week, Trump released 20 new names to select a Supreme Court nominee if he has the chance to. If Bader Ginsburg was to retire, Trump could create a dangerously one-sided Supreme Court, of which we will certainly feel the repercussions of for decades.

    The list includes people like Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Josh Hawley of Missouri— all people who have made nationally recognizable names for themselves by railing against social progress in the last few years. Although Hawley admitted he is not interested in a place in the high court, his stance, like others on Trump's list surrounding issues like Roe v. Wade, is clear. "My principal role in this process, this latest process, was to state where I will begin with judicial nominees, which is asking where they are on Roe vs. Wade," he stated after Trump's list was released. Cotton, another possible pick, tweeted, "It's time for Roe v. Wade to go."

    Roe v. Wade, the ruling protecting a women's right to choose, is seriously at stake if a vacancy were to arise in the Supreme Court. One of the names on the list that could be a threat to Roe v. Wade is Judge James Ho. Two years ago, he was seen in the national news for describing abortion as a "moral tragedy" and accusing the lower court of "anti-Christian bias."

    Daniel Cameron, the Black, Conservative attorney general from Kentucky, who faced intense criticism surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor was also included in the list.

    The LGBTQ+ community's rights are at stake as well, with one pick, Kyle Duncan, being known almost exclusively for his bigotry. Before becoming a judge, he built a legal career on targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Earlier this year, he wrote a ten-page opinion insisting on calling a trans litigant by the wrong pronouns.

    In a White House press conference last week, Trump said, "Over the next four years, the next president will choose hundreds of federal judges and one, two, three, four Supreme Court justices." The Washington Post noted that, "Unlike the Gorsuch types on the list four years ago, Cruz and Cotton are widely known – and detested – by liberal activists." In other words, like most things Trump does, this is a signal. With widely recognizable names packed into this list, it even makes those who may not be deeply invested in politics perk up.

    During last month's Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama pleaded, "If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me — they can, and they will if we don't make a change in this election." This new Supreme Court list is a reminder of this. Not just for Democrats, but everyone, because a real democracy depends on balance to function in the slightest.

    Top Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

     

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    Earlier this week, abortion rights were on the ballot in Louisiana and Colorado. In Louisiana, voters passed an amendment to the state constitution adding clarifying language that the state does not offer protection for abortion rights or funding. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion policy will be left up to the states. Louisiana already has "trigger laws" in place, meaning that abortion would automatically become illegal in the state if Roe falls. But adding insult to injury, this new amendment  would make it even more difficult for lawyers to challenge an abortion ban.

    The amendment added the following to the Louisiana Declaration of Rights: "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion." The Associated Press states that Louisiana's Amendment 1 was approved by a majority of 62.1% to 37.9%. There are already only three abortion clinics left in the entirety of Louisiana, and this legislative action is positioned to make it even harder to obtain reproductive healthcare in the future if Roe is reversed.

    According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research center that supports reproductive freedom, "A reversal of Roe could establish a legal path for states' pre-1973 abortion bans, as well as currently unenforced post-1973 bans, to take effect." There are now 21 states that use language in their constitutions that effectively restrict abortion in the scenario that Roe v. Wade is struck down.

    Colorado voted in the opposite direction from Louisiana. According to CNN, voters rejected Proposition 115 by a 59% to 41% vote. This proposition would have banned abortion beginning at 22 weeks of pregnancy unless the pregnant person's life was in immediate danger. There would be no exceptions for rape or incest. Although the polls were close, abortion's legal protections in the state were sustained.

    Colorado is unique because it is one of the only states with no gestational limits on abortion. However, it is important to note that only 1.2% of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks. The Guttmacher Institute points out that people seeking an abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy typically experience more logistical delays than those who have abortions in the first trimester. These include locating a provider, raising funds for the procedure and transportation costs, and obtaining or confirming health insurance coverage. Not only is late-term abortion rare, but researchers in 2004 found that 58 percent of abortion patients reported that they would have preferred to have had their abortion earlier than they did.

    Herein lies one of the most troubling illustrations of what a post-Roe America would look like: coastal and liberal states would maintain the right to choose, while people in the South and swaths of middle America would be left with no support. Research has found that 24% of women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the age of 45. That's roughly one-quarter of women in the country. With numbers like that, it's hard to sell the idea that abortion bans would stop abortions from happening. Equally important is the fact that the conditions for why people may need to have an abortion will still apply.  

    Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, and Louisiana all have similar language in their state constitutions that would make challenging an abortion ban incredibly difficult. Each state is one of the 10 most impoverished in the nation. The Guttmacher Institute has found that "some 75% of abortion patients in 2014 were poor (having an income below the federal poverty level of $15,730 for a family of two in 2014) or low-income (having an income of 100–199% of the federal poverty level)." In 2014, 10 percent of women traveled 50 to 100 miles, and 8 percent traveled more than 100 miles to reach an abortion clinic. This number would undoubtedly go up if Roe falls, but there are massive barriers to this kind of travel. Between needing to take time off work, gas or public transportation costs, and lodging, safe abortions simply will not be accessible to the most vulnerable populations.

    While abortion rates are on the decline, especially as contraception has become more accessible, they are still an essential part of reproductive freedom. The Supreme Court is the most conservative it has been since the 1930s, putting the already uncertain future of Roe onto a tightrope. Like we have seen in America's recent history, banning abortion does not stop them from happening; it prevents them from being safe.

    If you would like to help support reproductive freedom in Louisiana, you can donate to the New Orleans Abortion Fund here.

    Top Image via Unsplash/Lucia

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    Sunday evening, New York magazine published an interview (though we use the term "interview" loosely) with Soon-Yi Previn, Woody Allen’s wife of 20 years and the adoptive daughter of Allen's ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow. Throughout the piece, Soon-Yi accuses Mia Farrow of child neglect and abuse:

    Soon-Yi also says she and her adopted sisters were used as "domestics," while Farrow kept busy rearranging the furniture, ordering from catalogues, working on her scrapbooks, and talking to her friends on the phone.

    The abuses listed are relentless: Farrow purportedly hit Soon-Yi with a hairbrush and a porcelain rabbit, repeatedly called her a “moron,” and refused to teach her basic feminine hygiene, such as how to use a tampon. It’s a disturbing read. Most disturbing, though, is Previn’s description of her “romance” with Woody Allen, the then-boyfriend of Mia Farrow. The affair supposedly began Previn’s freshman year of college:

    Both of them are vague on how and when their friendship turned sexual — “It was 25 years ago,” she says — beyond the fact that it was a gradual process. “I think Woody went after me because at that first basketball game I turned out to be more interesting and amusing than he thought I’d be,” Soon-Yi offers. “Mia was always pounding into him what a loser I was.”

    That troubling power dynamic is framed by the writer in sympathetic terms. The writer, Daphne Merkin, is a long-time friend of Allen’s and skeptic of the #MeToo movement. In a January 2018 New York Times op-ed, she argued that the #MeToo movement invited “a victimology paradigm for young women.” Her skepticism serves the New York magazine article: in it, Allen is framed as the victim of Farrow’s malicious lies.

    Since publication, the article has been widely-criticized for bias. In a tweet, Ronan Farrow called it a "shameful" and a “hit job." It is undeniable: Previn has a right to tell her story. But this article was not just a profile of Previn. Her charges of abuse against Mia Farrow work, in part, to validate the piece’s assertion that Mia Farrow coached then-seven-year-old Dylan Farrow—Mia Farrow and Woody Allen's adopted child, and Soon-Yi's younger sister—into accusing Allen of sexual assault. Merkin did not acknowledge the facts that two babysitters and one tutor testified in court to Allen’s disturbing sexual behavior and that a judge ruled that “we will probably never know what occurred on August 4, 1992...[but] Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate and... measures must be taken to protect her.” Instead, she presented Soon-Yi's assertion that "[Mia] has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan as a victim" unchallenged. 

    Dylan Farrow responded in a statementon Twitter, writing, “Woody Allen molested me when I was seven years old, part of a documented pattern of inappropriate, abusive touching that led a judge to say there was no evidence I was coached and that it was unsafe for me to be in Woody Allen’s presence. The idea of letting a friend of an alleged predator write a one-sided piece attacking the credibility of his victim is disgusting. [...] No one is ‘parading me around as a victim.’ I continue to be an adult woman making a credible allegation unchanged for two decades, backed up by evidence."

    Earlier that same day, another story about sexual assault made headlines: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward to identify herself to the Washington Post as the previously anonymous woman who wrote a letter testifying that she had been sexually assaulted by Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, when they were in high school. 

    Last Thursday, Senate Democrats revealed that they had referred the complaint to the F.B.I.; Kavanaugh flatly denied the claims. On Sunday, Blasey For came forward with a clear message: Kavanaugh assaulted her, and is unfit to sit on the Supreme Court.

    Now, both sides have expressed willingness to testify before a Senate Judiciary committee; now, a public hearing has been scheduled for next Monday, reports CNN

    The story first detailed in a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California by Blasey Ford is all too familiar: According to the Post, Kavanaugh and his friend, “both stumbling drunk,” corralled Ford into a bedroom at the party in Montgomery County, Md. After forcing her onto the bed, he began removing her clothing, covering her mouth as she attempted to scream. In the struggle, she managed to escape.

    Republicans accused her report as a ploy to torpedo Kavanaugh’s career. That’s a familiar sentiment deployed against victims accusing powerful men of assault, but Ford made it known that Kavanaugh’s imminent confirmation is exactly why she came forward ow: "Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation," Ford told the Washington Post.

    Last week, Judiciary Committee Republicans released a letter from 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh in high school. Vouching for his character, they said he always treated women with ”decency and respect.”

    As of Monday, more than 200 women who went to Blasey Ford’s high school have signed a letter to show support for her. “We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

    Their support is heartening, especially as Blasey Ford prepares for inevitable attacks on her personal and professional life. All the power to her in these next few days.

    Photo Credit: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

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