By Sara Shor, US Keep it in the Ground Campaign Manager
Last week, I stayed glued to my computer watching the Kavanaugh hearing and following along on Twitter. I witnessed an astounding display of women’s strength and a terrifying demonstration of white male privilege.
The possibility of Kavanaugh’s appointment is something that we at 350 Action have been looking at from the climate perspective, but it’s clear this is high stakes for so many other issues, including women’s health, voting rights, and civil rights.
Listening to Dr. Blasey Ford’s account brought back many traumatic memories of my interactions with men as well as countless stories relayed to me by friends. And the following dismissal of her testimony by some of the most powerful men in the country (the same ones ignoring the climate crisis) felt like a big punch in the stomach.
And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Last week, the National Sexual Assault Hotline experienced a call volume 147% higher than usual.1 And according to the Center for Disease Control:
- In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
- For women of color, this number is much higher. In the U.S., half (49.5%) of multiracial women, 45.6% of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 35.5% of non-Hispanic Black women, 26.9% of Hispanic women, and 22.9% of Asian/ Pacific Islander women experienced some form of contact sexual violence during their lifetime.
- This results in 81% of women and 35% of men reporting significant short- or long-term impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 2
Can we take a second to think about that? This news has and will have a huge impact on women and will continue to have traumatic consequences if we see Kavanaugh confirmed.
As Dr. Blasey Ford read her testimony, I thought of Anita Hill, who so bravely did the same 27 years ago. I also thought about the millions of women who are being forced to re-live traumas through this process. I thought of women across the country who were told through the disregard from these Senators, some of the most powerful men in the country, that our stories don’t matter.
We are being told that even if this did happen, it’s not a big enough deal to “ruin this man’s life.” This man — who grew up in the predominantly white, rich suburbs, went to private prep school, played on the football team, had every advantage that one could imagine (similar to most of the Senators who were sitting across from him) — can’t even fathom that he should be held responsible or even be made to think about something he did “so many years ago.”
This man, backed by many other powerful men (and possibly women) from similar backgrounds, could be the deciding vote on every important issue that our country faces.
Not only could this alleged sexual assaulter be deciding the fate of women’s health access, he could threaten voting rights, access to healthcare, religious freedoms, civil rights, marriage equality, racial equity, labor protections, and major environmental protections.
If we are going to have a liveable planet, we cannot afford a Supreme Court justice who dismisses the importance of climate change and favors corporate profits and underregulation over clean air, water, and communities.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, these are the environmental concerns we’ll have to worry about:
- Kavanaugh will be the deciding vote on whether the EPA and agencies have the ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the major driver of climate disruption.
- Kavanaugh has admitted that humans are causing climate change but doesn’t think the EPA should have the authority to regulate carbon pollution.3
- Kavanaugh seems to have more loyalty to fossil fuel companies than clean air and water. He has written several dissenting opinions that the EPA has not considered costs to business (coal in particular) when making decision about regulations.4
- Kavanaugh will not be favorable to lawsuits that seek to hold fossil fuel companies like Exxon accountable for impacts from climate change.
These decisions will have major implications for the future of our planet and the well being of our communities – for generations to come.
We know that if we are going to seriously address climate disruption, we need to drastically cut carbon emissions and keep fossil fuels in the ground. We need to stop fossil fuel expansion and move to 100% renewable energy. We need to prioritize the health, safety, and ingenuity of local communities over corporate profits. And we are going to need the help of the government to do that.
If Kavanaugh’s nomination goes forward, we won’t be able to depend on the federal courts to protect the rights of marginalized and vulnerable people. We will be looking at a Supreme Court that could spend generations rolling back social, economic, racial and environmental justice in support of corporate power. We deserve better.
And we’ll be sending a message to millions of women that our concerns and experiences of sexual assault will once again be dismissed by those who make decisions in the highest courts in this country.
One of the most important ways we can take action to protect the Supreme Court is by electing progressive climate leaders to Congress — starting on November 6.
1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sexual-assault-hotline-spike-kavanaugh-hearings_us_5badec39e4b0425e3c227446 ↩
2. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf ↩
3. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/sep/10/kavanaughs-views-on-epas-climate-authority-are-dangerous-and-wrong ↩
4. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=12809509887889779783&q=WHITE+STALLION+ENERGY+CENTER+LLC+v.+EPA&hl=en&as_sdt=40000006&as_vis=1 and https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=18109074323810897431&q=829+F.3d+710+&hl=en&as_sdt=4,130&as_vis=1 ↩