Brett Kavanaugh confirmation

Supreme Court

Supreme Court building, Washington, DC. Photo by Callen Harty.

This morning I sent a letter to both of my senators and to all of the senators who appear to be currently on the fence about Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court:

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate have the responsibility to advise and consent on nominations for judgeships and this is a huge responsibility. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life and should be fully vetted before being appointed. They should be experienced, fair-minded, impartial, and have a full understanding of the law and the Constitution of the United States. Brett Kavanaugh seems fully qualified, but there are too many lingering doubts about him to ensure that he is the right selection for the highest court in the land.

Judge Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault by a number of women. This is not something to be dismissed lightly. The American people heard the same thing about Donald Trump and still voted him in as President. The people have the right to elect someone to office, regardless of that person’s moral or criminal background. The Senate needs to be more deliberative and more careful.

Only one of the women who has accused Judge Kavanaugh was asked to speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Why did the committee not invite the others? Why did they not invite his friend, Mark Judge, to testify under oath? Why are they not willing to take their time and fully vet the candidate? While some say the Democrats are trying to slow down the process for political reasons, and I believe this is true, it is also clear that the Republicans are trying to rush the process for political reasons. Dr. Ford, the woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh, was simply trying to get information to the committee so that they would have that information before voting one way or the other. Regardless of which side of the political aisle one falls on–and I am independent voter who has voted for several parties in various elections–the Senate has the responsibility to take whatever time it needs to make sure the appointment serves the American people.

I believe Dr. Ford. I am a male survivor of child sex abuse. I know how difficult it can be to name that. I know the shroud of secrecy that comes with it. I know how hard it can be to admit it to oneself, let alone publicly. Statistically, only 2-8% of all sexual assault allegations are false, and this is the same statistic as for other crimes. In the case of false sexual assault allegations, a very high percentage of the cases of false claims occur in contentious divorce cases. That is not the situation here. Dr. Ford came forward publicly only after journalists had figured out who she was, so that she could tell her own story. In addition, you will find that many, if not most, sexual assault victims, take years to process the assault. Very few immediately report the crime. There is too much shame and fear associated with sexual assault for it to be easy to talk about. Statistics show a large percentage of women and men who are victimized never report it.

Even if Judge Kavanaugh were fully innocent of this crime, and on paper fully qualified for the Supreme Court, his demeanor at the hearing on Thursday, September 27, should be disqualifying. Supreme Court justices are supposed to be above politics and fully independent jurists who remain objective. Their only guidance should be how they interpret the Constitution, not how they view one political party or the other. It was clear from Kavanaugh’s outbursts at the hearing that he cannot be an objective, impartial justice, that he opposes one of the two major political parties in this country, and that will undoubtedly impact his views and decisions on the bench.

I urge you, as a survivor and as a citizen of this great country, to fully consider the nominee, the accusations against him, and his behavior at the hearing and throughout his life, before you make a decision about his nomination. I believe that if you do so in good conscience you will have to vote against seating him on the Supreme Court.

Thank you for your consideration.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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