Sunday, October 14, 2018
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Although Kavanaugh’s Been Installed on Supreme Court, the Fight is Far From Over

Interview with Toni Van Pelt, president of NOW, the National Organization for Women, conducted by Scott Harris

Despite several accusations of sexual misconduct, including the credible testimony of Christine Blasey Ford charging President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with attempted rape when they were teens, multiple instances of false statements made under oath and what many saw as a sham FBI investigation, Kavanaugh was confirmed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 50 to 48.
The confirmation hearings and vote were held as thousands of activists descended on the U.S. Capital to pressure senators to block Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The loss of that fight fueled outrage against Republicans who were seen as dismissing Ford’s charge of sexual assault – and worse – Trump’’s mocking of her testimony at a recent campaign rally.
Now the protesters who were branded by GOP lawmakers as unruly “mobs” – and millions of their supporters — are focusing on the battles ahead in the conservative majority Supreme Court over the future of legal abortion, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, labor law, voter suppression and healthcare.  Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Toni Van Pelt, president of NOW, the National Organization for Women, who talks about what she views as the deeply flawed confirmation process and the struggles ahead over the legitimacy of future Supreme Court rulings.

TONI VAN PELT: Well, I think that the thing that really strikes me now is the absolute glee and greed of those that are in power, these old white men, Republicans and the women that enable them. It’s pretty shocking that this could be happening in our democracy today. I think that it’s really important that with the #MeToo movement, #Timesup, #EnoughisEnough that women are finding their voices and they are finally speaking out. I think, from just taking tactics from their playbook, when women get angry – women aren’t allowed to get angry – if we get angry, then we’re called shrill and now apparently we’re called a mob. So, they keep saying that they’re talking about the Democrats, but they’re not talking about the Democrats. They’re talking about over 51 percent of the population of this country and that is the women of this country who have had enough. And it really doesn’t matter what they call us, we’re not stopping.

BETWEEN THE LINES: In response to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that she was 100 percent sure Brett Kavanaugh was the one who sexually assaulted her when she was in high school, what’s the message the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate is sending to women across America?

TONI VAN PELT: Oh no, I think that they just reinforce the message: “This is the way that women have been treated for millennia.” It’s the way that we’re treated in this country. It’s the way we’re treated around the world. And, it’s men protecting men. It’s men protecting themselves and protecting their power. It’s the culture of sexual assault, of violence. That’s the culture that we live in – the culture of women hating.

But I don’t think it’s gonna work this time. I really don’t. I think too many women have spoken out; too many women are on the line. I mean, I was up on the Hill all last week and even the day women of, were flying in. One of our interns flew in with a group from her school, University of Iowa, to testify that people were holding a filibuster on the Capitol grounds that went on for over 24 hours.

We’re not going to stop. We’re going to take back our legislatures across this country and we’re going to win in 2018. And the anger is not going to go away and no matter how gleeful they are – they are the mob. They act like the mob. They actually actually like the Mafia. They’re tyrants and we’re not going to put up with it any longer.

We’re going to put women in power into these seats even though they’ve gerrymandered them and we’re going to keep on keeping on until we take this country back. What we’re seeing going on now is really more than just about women and sexual assault and sexual harassment. This is the backlash against our first black president. So this is not just about women. This is about racism and we have to be honest about that. They may not be saying that right now, but that’s a big piece of this – the racism, the white supremacy that’s also going on. The hatred in this country. These people that are empowered right now, are very, very ugly people.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Now impeaching Kavanaugh as one of the options here, if the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, a lot of analysts say, “Hey, that’s a long shot because an impeachment process can be started, but they need two-thirds of the senators to actually boot them out of the Supreme Court.” So short of that, you think just the process itself is, worth investing politically into?

TONI VAN PELT: I do. I think that it is really good – people that are liberal that wake up in the morning and they want fairness for all believe that this process was rotten from the start and I think that we have to talk and patron. I think that we have to use every single avenue and not say, “Okay, well there’s no way that we can get two-thirds of the Senate, so therefore, we shouldn’t try.”

No, we have to keep pushing forward. We can’t just decide that something has already been decided before it’s even been determined. We have to keep our voices strong and loud. We have to let them know we’re not going to go away. They’re not going to get away with this. We are taking steps to stop them.

BETWEEN THE LINES:  With the 5 to 4 conservative majority now established on the U.S. Supreme Court, what are some of your biggest concerns about Supreme Court rulings going forward? And, of course there’s a lot of concern out there about reproductive rights, labor rights, environmental regulation and climate regulation, the deregulation of Wall Street, social safety net programs, overturning criminal justice reforms, civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights. The list goes on and on.

TONI VAN PELT: Yeah, it does. They want to rewrite America. They want to drag us back to the bad old days and who knows what’s gonna happen with that. They’re also filling up not just the Supreme Court, but the other federal benches and the other courts where they are allowed to appoint. That’s why it’s so important that we get to the polls, that we vote them out of office, that we did give the Democrats a majority in both the House and the Senate – and now it’s going to be working to put more women into office and to do just that. That’s the most important thing we can do right now. We can get people to register to vote. We can help people get to the polls and we can all vote. Vote them out of office.

For more information what groups across the nation are doing to protect hard-won legal and legislative victories from being overturned in the new conservative Supreme Court, visit NOW’s (the National Organization for Women) website at now.org.

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