Hawaii Senator Will Ask Court Nominees About Sexual Assault History

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The senator has already started asking judicial nominees about their involvement with sexual misconduct to make sure they answer these questions under oath.

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono has vowed to ask court nominees about their sexual assault history, forcing the would-be justices to answer her questions under oath.

The announcement was made on Twitter.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hirono is one of the lawmakers who decides whether federal court system nominees make the cut. Wednesday marked the first time that the Democrat from Hawaii was able to put her promise into practice.

During the confirmation hearing for 5th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Kurt Engelhardt, Hirono asked Engelhardt whether he had ever been involved with sexual misconduct, to which the judge replied he hadn’t.

“[W]omen and men all across the country have been speaking out about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment,” she told the judge before questioning him. “And it started in Hollywood, but we know that it occurs in many other settings.”

Hirono is one of the many women who have used their fame and position to raise awareness about sexual misconduct. As a lawmaker, she will now be able to press judges to be honest about their past, a necessity considering that 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski was just named in a series of harassment claims recently.

At least 15 women accused Kozinski of subjecting them to “a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments.” The scandal prompted the judge to retire.

In Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ annual State of the Judiciary report, Roberts writes that the judicial branch is not immune when it comes to sexual harassment. In 2018, he vowed to look into how the judiciary addresses reports of abuse in the workplace.

After so many reports of harassment and abuse in Washington, D.C., it’s important that lawmakers and justices are doing their part to keep people in power accountable.

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Flickr user AFGE

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