The confirmation to the Supreme Court of Judge Brett Kavanaugh has set off alarm bells in many minority communities, but none more so than among African-American women.
The vote to confirm Kavanaugh came after a short FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and weeks of protests that were led primarily by Black women and other women of color.
“And, they wonder why there’s a wave of women, particularly women of color, particularly Black women, aiming for political office this year and beyond in an unprecedented amount? Because it’s time for a change,” award-winning journalist and “AfterBuzzTV” host Chauncey K. Robinson said following the 50-48 vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
Many others noted that, among the “yes” votes was Sen. Susan Collins, a White woman hailed as a pro-choice moderate. Critics said Collins chose to uphold systems of White power and privilege in a decision that will negatively affect the rights and lives of women of color for generations.
“The Supreme Court is expected to function as a way to ensure and preserve justice for all Americans, but Black women have never been able to count on our nation’s highest judges to defend and protect us,” Tamika D. Mallory, activist and co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, warned in a September op-ed for Glamour magazine.
Kavanaugh would shamefully worsen this problem, Mallory wrote, pointing out that President Donald Trump had vowed to tap only pro-life judges to the high court.
“Our society still fails to recognize the abuse of Black and brown bodies on which this nation was founded — and even more so, the violent control and degradation of Black women’s bodies and lives,” Mallory said. “Throughout the 20th century, government agencies were targeting women of color for sterilization. From 1929 to 1974, North Carolina’s eugenics program aimed to stop poor people or those with mental illness from reproducing, but a disproportionate amount of the women ultimately targeted were Black women.
“For generations, the women who came before us have fought back and resisted this anti-Black and anti-woman state violence in any way they could,” she wrote. “We owe it to them — and to the women who will come after us — to do the same.”
Marcela Howell, founder and executive director of The National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, responded to Kavanaugh’s confirmation by noting that women of color and immigrant women “understand that our rights and our lives are at stake as a result of today’s confirmation vote.”
“Judge Kavanaugh has a history of restrictive views on civil rights, safe and legal abortion, access to birth control, workers’ rights and immigrant rights that will be detrimental to Black Women,” Howell said in a news release. “After the credible testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the politically partisan and disrespectful rebuttal by Judge Kavanaugh and a sham FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations, we believe that Judge Kavanaugh does not have the temperament or character to serve on the high court.
“Make no mistake: Our right to safe, legal abortion and birth control is already under siege. In the first four months of this year, 37 states introduced 347 measures to restrict access to abortion or birth control,” she said. “Black women, young women, immigrant women — all women of color — are disparately impacted by such restrictions because we have been systematically denied the resources, services and information we need to make important and personal decisions about our reproductive health.
“Having confirmed Kavanaugh to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate has failed to rise above partisan agendas and, as a result, has undermined the integrity of the highest court in the land,” Howell said.
In the week leading up to the vote, thousands of demonstrators descended upon the Supreme Court, the Hart Senate Office Building at the Capitol and other locations in the District. Protests also took place in other cities around the nation.
Even before Saturday’s confirmation, nearly 300 people were arrested and charged with misdemeanors.
On Saturday, protesters also gathered on the National Mall, many holding signs reading “Vigilant” and “We believe the survivors.”
Protesters stood one by one in different sections of the Senate Gallery during the confirmation vote, most with their fists raised, and yelled, “I will not consent.”
Police forcibly removed the protesters, with one person dragged out by their arms and legs. They kept screaming as they were pulled into the hallway, according to CNN.
Capitol Police said 13 protesters were arrested in the gallery during the vote and one a short time earlier.
“Kavanaugh’s confirmation is putting women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, environmental protections, worker’s rights, the ability to implement gun safety rules and the ability to hold presidents accountable at risk for a generation,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Mohammad Khan, campaign director of MPower Change Action, the largest Muslim-led social and racial justice organization in the U.S., said everyone is reeling in disappointment and anxiety because a “dangerously right-wing judicial operative — one who believes that both Trump and himself are above the law — has been appointed to the Supreme Court.”
“Muslim, immigrant, and refugee communities can still feel the open wound from this summer’s Muslim Ban ruling,” Khan said. “[Saturday’s] decision confirms that the court will continue to rubber-stamp more dangerous policies that harm, dehumanize, and exclude people of color.”
Without a crucial check on executive power, the government will continue to dismantle democracy and uphold White nationalism, Khan said.
“November is coming. We will protest, we will vote, and we will organize until we have reunited our families and communities and put a political price on Islamophobia and bigotry,” he said.