Earlier this year, I highlighted this in my past diary:
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) wants to guarantee that those who’ve committed sexual assault stay out of positions of power, including in the federal court system.
The senator tweeted on Wednesday that going forward, she’ll be asking federal judge nominees under oath whether they have a history of sexual assault.
Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee which vets nominations to the Justice Department, began the new practice during a confirmation hearing for 5th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Kurt Engelhardt of New Orleans.
“As you know, women and men all across the country have been speaking out about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. And it started in Hollywood but we know that it occurs in many other settings,” Hirono said on Wednesday during the hearing.
The senator then asked Engelhardt two questions about whether he’d ever been involved with sexual misconduct. The judge said he hadn’t.
Hirono said that her announcement comes on the heels of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ annual State of the Judiciary report, released last month, in which Roberts noted the judicial branch is “not immune” to issues regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. In the report, Roberts said he would launch a review of how the federal judiciary addresses sexual harassment in 2018.
Hirono has kept true to her word. According to the Huffington Post, Hirono has kept true to her word by grilling 100 Trump judicial nominees for the past seven months on the same questions regarding sexual harassment:
“Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?”
“Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?”
And her next target is Brett Kavanaugh:
Hirono plans to bring up the issue soon with a high-profile nominee: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court pick. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which she sits on, is expected to hold his confirmation hearing next month.
“I think it’s a legitimate area of inquiry,” she said. “It’s something that will get asked.”
Kavanaugh, who is currently a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, may get more questions on sexual harassment than most. Democrats have drawn attention to his decades-long relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, who abruptly retired last year after 15 women accused him of harassment. The two have remained close over the years and it’s raised questions about what he knew about Kozinski’s bad behavior.
Hirono has other concerns about Kavanaugh, too. She’s worried how he would rule on women’s reproductive rights ― he once argued that it would be an undue burden on Catholic employers to fill out a form saying they did not want employees to get contraceptive coverage ― and on challenges to the Affordable Care Act. She said he also has a pattern of narrowly interpreting laws that regulate clean air and water.
The amount of preparation she’s doing for the Supreme Court hearing was evident by the four large binders on her desk, each full of hundreds of pages of records on Kavanaugh. She’s got tabs on dozens of pages and notes scribbled throughout. She started flipping through one of the binders to show all the notes she’s been taking.
“What?? What the heck is that?” reads one message she wrote to herself.
Another page had a pink sticky note with one word on it: “What?!”
Hirono knows it is unlikely that Democrats can stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Republicans are in the majority, and red-state Democrats up for re-election in November may end up supporting him.
But she said it’s crucial that Democrats put up a big fight, if only to remind the public what they stand for.
“There are some battles that are worth fighting, regardless of the outcomes,” said Hirono. “I’m hopeful the people in our country will realize these judges who are appointed for life are going to make decisions that affect their life every single day ― and that this is the lasting legacy of Trump.”
It’s important to still keep the pressure on your Senator to oppose Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Click here to contact your Senator and urge them to vote against Kavanaugh.
Let’s also thank Senator Hirono for keeping up this fight. Click here to donate and get involved with her re-election campaign.