Rallygoers hold hands in solidarity during a speech at City Hall. // Photo by Jaden Moon
By Jaden Moon
Chants of “We believe you!” flooded the rainy steps of the Bellingham City Hall, where a rally against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh took place on Sunday, Sept. 30.
President Trump nominated Kavanaugh to fill the court’s 9th seat, which was vacated when Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in June 2018. However, controversy erupted after allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh were brought to light.
Kavanaugh has maintained that he is innocent.
Upwards of 200 people attended the rally, armed with signs with statements such as “Kava…No!,” “Reject Kavanaugh,” and “Respect Women, our voices, our bodies, our choices.”
Groups including Planned Parenthood, DVSAS, Raging Grannies (a national organization comprised of grandmas pushing for civil rights) and the Riveters Collective showed their support for survivors of sexual assault through songs, booths, voter registration cards and more.
Erin Montgomery, coordinator of Western’s Planned Parenthood Generation club, said the group came out to voice their support.
“We are here today, in order to stand in solidarity with survivors,” Montgomery said.
Three women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Julie Swetnik and Deborah Ramirez, with a fourth accusation in an anonymous letter, according to a Business Insider article.
Dr. Ford is the only accuser who has given a testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The rally took place following a week-long delay of the Senate vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The FBI is entering an investigation of the allegations and Kavanaugh’s statements regarding them, which is the cause of the delay. Many senators are skeptical of the allegations, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
“I’m sorry, you needed to go to the cops,” Graham said to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in response to her explanation on why she did not report the alleged misconduct sooner after it happened.
John Bower, Western Fairhaven College professor, was a primary organizer of the rally.
“Could you imagine if half of the senators were women?” He said. “Kavanaugh would not be up for nomination.”
Currently, 23 senators are women, with only two of them being Republicans, the majority party in the Senate.
Senior Class President of Squalicum High School Paige Censale spoke at the rally.
“I’m here to tell you the time is up,” Censale said. “We will no longer take sorry as an excuse. Our generation will not accept this.”
Censale is also a member of Students for Action, an organization comprised of students from four high schools in Bellingham with the primary goal of ensuring student safety. They were one of the primary organizers of the rally, and they said they believe speaking out against Kavanaugh’s nomination is vital.
“Being a Supreme Court Justice means you’ll be there for decades, and someone that doesn’t follow our moral code should not be able to make precedent for years to come,” Censale said.
The potential outcomes of the vote were explored by journalist Dylan Matthews in an article written for Vox on Sept. 4, 2018.
In the article, Matthews explained that many monumental cases that could shape society are currently facing the Supreme Court. If Kavanaugh’s nomination is accepted, Matthews wrote that years of liberal progress are more likely to be erased. That means past decisions, including monumental cases like Roe v. Wade, could possibly be overturned. Anti-discrimination laws could also be forgone for religious purposes and capital punishment could be bolstered.
Even though this would be more likely with a conservative judge, Matthews explained that the Supreme Court has a long-standing policy of stare decisis, which translates as “to stand by things decided,” or to follow precedent.
Multiple protestors stood on the steps and spoke with wavering voices about their experiences with sexual assault. The speakers highlighted why nominating Kavanaugh discounts the validity of their experiences and helps to heighten and normalize rape culture in America.
Professor Bower said he is concerned Western students don’t have enough momentum.
“Students at Western need to get off their asses,” he said. “They are so quiet and acquiescent. They should be shutting down school for what is happening and stand for the morals they say they have.”
The Planned Parenthood Generation club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Academic West 305. Meetings are open to all.