Photo: Getty

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to hold a hearing Monday on the allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were at a party in high school, but faced with the prospect of an overwhelmingly male committee questioning Kavanaugh’s accuser, Republicans have realized they have (another) problem on their hands.

GOP senators are reportedly concerned about how it would look for 11 men to question one woman about a sexual assault allegation, with Democratic sources telling HuffPost that the senators are considering asking their female staffers to do the questioning for them.

They have reason to worry. One year after Anita Hill’s Senate hearing in 1991, in which she accused Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, a wave of women ran for office in an effort to shift the balance of power on display when Hill was questioned by an all-white, all-male committee. Now, as part of the response to President Trump, another record-breaking group of women are running for office. If the all-male committee gives the impression that they don’t care about sexual violence, it could end badly for their colleagues.

“We’ve discussed various options, including hiring outside lawyers and supplementing that with senators asking questions,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, told HuffPost. “So, any senator who wants to ask questions remains free to do so. But I don’t want want to get in front of the chairman.”

Another option they’re considering is allowing Ford’s lawyer to question Kavanaugh and Kavanaugh’s lawyer to question Ford. Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who isn’t on the committee, told the site she supports that idea.

Advertisement

Republicans are resisting Democrats’ requests to call further witnesses, including Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge, who was allegedly an accomplice during the incident and has voiced some pretty strange opinions about sexual assault online.

It’s also far from certain that Ford herself will testify on Monday. Yesterday, she said through her lawyers that she wanted an FBI investigation into her claims before she testified in front of Congress, with the New York Times reporting  she’d “all but ruled out” appearing at the hearing. Even so, Republicans have vowed to push ahead with the confirmation process even if she didn’t appear.