About 20 protesters rallied outside the Salt Lake City office of Sen. Orrin Hatch on Thursday, slamming the Utah Republican for making “inappropriate” comments about the women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
“He’s been repeating all of the arguments that silence women,” said Liz Rank, 58. “He’s been actively making things worse for any woman who’s been raped or assaulted.”
Hatch is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that heard from Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, on Thursday. Leading up to the dramatic hearing, the senator said Ford must be “mistaken” in her allegations. He dismissed an account from a second woman who came forward as “phony.” And he said he was “naturally suspicious” when a third woman reported witnessing Kavanaugh harass women at a party.
He also called Ford “an attractive person” before her testimony Thursday. His spokesman, Matt Whitlock, responded to reporters saying that the senator “uses ‘attractive’ to describe personalities, not appearances.”
Rank, who helped organize the protest outside Hatch’s office, carried a sign that read, “Shame on Orrin.” The group gathered around noon and picketed against his remarks for about an hour.
“We believe Ford’s story,” Rank said. “It resonates with our experiences.”
Lydia Merl, 51, of Park City, added that she felt “almost every comment is inappropriate” that Hatch has made during the process.
“I’m here in solidarity for women who are brave enough to put everything on the line,” she said.
Her poster included speech bubbles around a picture of Hatch, quoting controversial things he’s said about the women and Kavanaugh. The flipside simply noted, “I still believe Anita,” a reference to Anita Hill, who similarly testified in 1991 that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her when they had worked together.
Kavanaugh is President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat of retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. Earlier this month, Ford, a California research psychologist, came forward alleging that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school. She has said that he got drunk, pinned her down and touched her inappropriately during a party and that she escaped before he could remove her clothes.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.