On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to address his alleged sexual assault 36 years ago.
It bears a striking resemblance to the hearings the same committee held with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas on October 11 and October 12, in 1991 – with a few key differences.
Thomas was ultimately confirmed by the Senate by the thinnest margin in more than a century, of 52 to 48.
It remains to be seen in Kavanaugh will be confirmed, but the two spectacles remain a fascinating example of history nearly repeating itself.
Anita Hill was sworn in before giving her testimony.
Her swearing-in was carried out in the Senate’s Caucus Room before she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Like Hill, Christine Blasey Ford is also a professor.
Hill was a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, now teaching at Brandeis University. Ford teaches at Palo Alto University and os a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Hill testified and gave sexually explicit details about Thomas’s alleged harassment.
She testified that she was “embarrassed and humiliated” by unwanted, sexually explicit comments from Thomas.
Ford also went into details about her alleged assault.
She said Brett Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed and laughed.
Hill brought attorneys with her in front of the committee.
She brought Charles Ogletree, a professor at Harvard Law School, who also taught both Barack and Michelle Obama there.
Ford also brought a group of attorneys to advise her.
One of her lawyers is Michael Bromwich, who resigned from his firm to advise her pro-bono.
Hill testified at a table across from a panel of senators, with reporters off to the side.
There was no one between her and the senators questioning her.
The setup for Ford was different.
She had reporters between herself and the senate panel, which loomed above her.
The Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 was famously all white and all male.
In fact, three senators – Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, and Chuck Grassley – remain on the committee.
On the democratic side, it’s diversified.
It includes Diane Feinstein, Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono, Amy Klobuchar, and Corey Booker.
The Republican team was also all white and male.
It was aggressive and detailed, asking Hill about the intimate details of Thomas’s alleged harassment.
It remains all white and male today — so they hired a woman.
Aware of the optics of an all-male group of senators to question Ford, the Republican senators hired Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor from Arizona, to represent them in questioning.
Back then, Charles Grassley was a committee member.
He’s been a senator since 1980, and is the second-most-senior Republican serving in the Senate today.
Now, he’s the committee chairman.
He’s been the chairman of the committee since 2015.
Orrin Hatch, too, was a member then.
He’s the longest-serving Republican senator in history.
He’s still there.
Hatch plans to retire after serving out his current term.
Back in 1991, then-chairman, Democratic Senator Joe Biden aggressively questioned Thomas and Hill.
Biden ultimately voted against Thomas’s confirmation.
Republicans, for the most part, are more withdrawn.
During Ford’s testimony, they generally let Mitchell do the talking. Although during Kavanaugh’s testimony, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham denounced the hearings as a farce.
On some occasions, senators were emotional.
Hill went into detail about Thomas’s alleged harassment.
Republican senators during Ford’s testimony had different body language.
Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, for example, slumped in their seats as they listened to Ford’s testimony.
Thomas gave his testimony after Hill gave hers.
He gave his testimony a day after Hill.
So did Kavanaugh.
Unlike Thomas, the committee didn’t wait a full day, scheduling his testimony hours after Ford’s.
Thomas was furious during his own testimony.
Thomas was peeved he had to testify in the first place, dismissing Hill’s allegations and calling the confirmation hearings “a high-tech lynching for uppity-blacks.”
Kavanaugh was also emotional, yelling and tearing up at times.
Like Thomas, Kavanaugh denied the sexual assault allegations and denounced the hearings as a farce, claiming they had “totally and permanently destroyed” his life.
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