Christine Blasey Ford and Anita Hill: Comparing the situations

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COLUMBIA - An MU law professor who, as a reporter, covered Anita Hill's testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas said Christine Blasey Ford appearance before a Senate committee Thursday has some similarities, but just as many differences.

Ford spent hours testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when she was in high school.

Law professor Richard Reuben was paying close attention. He worked in the Supreme Court press corps as a reporter for a paper based in Los Angeles. He was on Capitol Hill when Anita Hill, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma at the time, accused Thomas of sexual harassment when they had worked together, saying he talked to her about things like porn and nudity.

Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her at a party. She's not the only woman to come forward, but she is the first to testify before Congress.

Reuben made space in his curriculum Thursday so his law students could watch Ford's testimony. He even invited the entire law school to join the class and discuss it as well.

Reuben said Ford's hearing is different from all of the hearings that came before it.

"What is unprecedented in this case is the decision by the Republican majority on the committee to hire a prosecutor to ask their questions rather than ask their questions themselves," he said.

He also said there are women on the Senate Judiciary Committee this time. That wasn't the case for Hill's hearing. Another change is the balance of power. In 1991, Republicans were the minority party. Now, they are the majority.

The Republicans' treatment of Ford's claims is also different from what Hill faced, Reuben said.

"I think that with Anita Hill's testimony there were a lot of questions about whether she was telling the truth or whether she properly interpreted the facts and a lot questions about her perception. I don't see those types of questions being raised right now about Christine Blasey Ford," he said.

Reuben said Hill's treatment, overall, was far harsher than what Ford is facing now. Ford has said she started receiving death threats as soon as she came forward.

"In the wake of the 'Me Too' movement, it takes a lot of courage for a woman like Christine Blasey Ford to come forward - and it does," Reuben said. "It took that much more courage for Anita Hill, where she had no support on the committee at all. Did not have the benefit of the "Me Too" movement at her back and was a minority anyway."

In the end, the Senate still confirmed Clarence Thomas. Reuben said Kavanaugh could still be confirmed, too.

"I don't think this one's over yet," Reuben said.

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