Social policy and law professor Anita Hill said Tuesday that voters should press Democratic presidential candidates on how they will tackle the issue of gender violence, arguing that little attention has been placed on the topic during this election cycle.
“We have been listening to presidential debates and I have been trying to keep track, but I haven’t heard one question about gender violence posed to the candidates. That needs to be addressed,” Hill said, speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington. “I think this is something that we need to be raising awareness about. If you go to a town hall and you’re in a primary state, I hope you’ll raise your hand and ask the candidates what they’re going to do about gender violence.”
Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of workplace sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing back in 1991, also said she had experienced “profound disappointment and sadness” after Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the court last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct that nearly prevented him from being cleared by the Senate.
Asked by an attendee what emotions she felt after Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, was confirmed, Hill replied: “It was profound disappointment and sadness. Because the perception that so many people had from that was that we haven’t made any advances in 28 years, and I know that that is not the case.”
“And I think that we all know that but then when we had the opportunity to display it, it didn’t happen,” she added.
Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate last fall after Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, testified before a Senate panel that he had sexually assaulted her while he was drunk at a party during their high school years — an allegation Kavanaugh has vehemently denied.
At the time of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Hill called on the government to implement a “fair and neutral” way to investigate the allegations made by Blasey Ford, which were eventually the subject of a supplemental background investigation into the nominee by the FBI.
Hill has largely remained out of the 2020 Democratic primary debate, though she said in June that she could vote for former Vice President Joe Biden should he become the nominee. That declaration came nearly two months after Hill and Biden had a phone conversation in which he expressed regret over the handling of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which she testified about Thomas. Biden served as Judiciary Committee chairman at the time.
Hill also weighed in Tuesday on the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy that led to the separation of migrant families at the US’ southern border, saying that “it needs to be put in historical context for its real meaning in this country,” adding that “family separation was a mainstay of slavery.”
“You have two different uses for family separation: One was to dehumanize people, so that they could be treated like chattel during slavery. … Secondly, take people away from their cultural roots. … And then finally we have its use today in policy against immigrants, against asylum seekers to, I believe, shape the political identify of this country,” she said.