On Sept. 14, The New York Times published an explosive story about Deborah Ramirez, who is among the list of women who have accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The difference with her case, however, is how little attention and due-process her story got.
As a non-traditional Yale student who came from a working-class family, Ramirez already lacked the network of friends and colleagues that Kavanaugh was privileged with. Ramirez was berated for her efforts to “fit in” with the Yale students. She joined the cheerleading squad but, by the same token, was working at the dining hall in order to pay for her student loans (which earned her the nicknames “Debbie Cheerleader” and “Debbie Dining Hall”). Her efforts were met with more hostility than admiration. As evident in The New York Times article, “Brett Kavanaugh Fit in With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not,” she was treated differently.
There was no shortage of political figures ready to give their opinions on Kavanaugh’s latest accuser. On Sept. 16, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went before Congress and called Ramirez’s accusation “Poorly sourced, thinly reported, and unsubstantiated […] Call it a one year anniversary reenactment. Senate Democrats reopening the sad and embarrassing chapter they wrote last September.” This was, of course, in reference to the FBI investigation into a claim of sexual assault by a high school classmate of Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford.
Blasey Ford endured three days of being poked and prodded by the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was treated like a credible threat by the GOP. As a professor at Palo Alto University, and a research psychologist at Stanford University, Blasey Ford, in the minds of most, would be seen as a woman of status and a trustworthy source. She didn’t appear to be looking for attention or needing a payday.
Despite not having a clear memory of the night in question, Blasey Ford was treated equally in accordance with the law, as any victim deserves. The justice system exhausted their resources in order to make a decision based on their best knowledge. Why did Ramirez not get the same benefit of the doubt? Despite having 25 individuals who may have witnessed, or even partook, in the night in question, the FBI still did not investigate, even after being approached by said witnesses on their own accord. This is in no way intended to villainize or discredit Blasey Ford’s testimony; it is instead a desire to point out the racial disparity within the justice system, which ultimately always favors racial and economic privilege.
When looking for other examples of women of color not being served justice where it’s due, we need look no further than the trial of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner and his victim Chanel Miller. Turner became a household name after being convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault of a woman known only at the time as “Emily Doe.” Even with two exchange students from Sweden witnessing and stopping the assault, going as far as pinning Turner down after he tried to flee and waiting for police to arrive on the scene, Turner was sentenced to a shocking six months in jail. He served half of his sentence.
Ms. Ramirez has finally received some recognition that she, at the very least, deserved to have her case fully investigated. If the account from the Times is true, including that the FBI was told by an official not to investigate, the White House will deserve the scrutiny and criticism it receives. There were undoubtedly better choices for Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, so tough questions need to be asked. In the age of the #MeToo movement, elected and appointed officials no longer deserve to be part of the “Good ol’ boys” club, as former President Bill Clinton had been. They deserve to be held accountable as it is a reasonable expectation that they represent their office or post with dignity