Marsha Blackburn’s career of setting women back


Marsha Blackburn speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Photo credits: Gage Skidmore.

Mary Hanna

Last week, Tennessee Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn spoke her mind regarding the news that has dominated the headlines for more than a week now: allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. While she said that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who is accusing Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were both high school students, should be heard, she then disqualified her own statement by saying, “it’s been 30-something years.” Blackburn even went so far as to say that this story is “a delay tactic” and that she thinks a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee should proceed without delay for further investigation. Even President Trump opened the door to delaying consideration of Kavanaugh’s nomination; but, for Marsha Blackburn, anything is worth pushing through an ultra conservative ideologue onto the Supreme Court.


Blackburn claims to fight tirelessly for women, insisting that Republicans have “led the fight for women’s equality.” To the casual observer, Blackburn’s comments this week might seem like a misstep in the career of a valiant advocate. But to Tennessee women like me, Blackburn’s comments are just one more chapter in her long history of setting women back with her rhetoric and extreme voting record. As college students, we often don’t pay enough attention to politics. It is not enough to simply take a politician’s word, and the 2018 midterm is certainly not the time for that.


During her time as a representative, Blackburn voted against bills that would prevent employers from discriminating against workers who file complaints against pay discrepancies. She then voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which strengthened laws preventing unequal compensation based on sex. To top it all off, Blackburn later claimed that she opposes all equal pay laws because women “don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves.”


Marsha Blackburn has been on the frontlines of efforts to undermine women’s access to health care.


As for women who experience violence, Blackburn values their safety less than her archaic ideological vendettas. In 2013, she voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it was expanded to include other different groups.” To be clear, these groups include LGBT, Native American and undocumented victims of domestic violence, which historically experience some of the highest rates of abuse. Clearly, she was more than willing to sacrifice the safety of all survivors of violence to showcase her hatred of other minority groups.


Marsha Blackburn has been on the frontlines of efforts to undermine women’s access to health care. She’s voted to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which prevents women from being charged more for healthcare because of their sex and which ensures women have access to critical benefits like maternity care and no-cost birth control. Additionally, her website touts her work in ending “Title X Taxpayer Funding For Big Abortion Businesses.” She sponsored a bill which she says would prohibit Title X money from funding abortions. But Title X, since its inception, has prohibited using federal money from the program to pay for abortions. Blackburn’s fight to dismantle Title X is just another thinly-veiled attack on health clinics like Planned Parenthood, which rely on federal funds to provide crucial health services to millions of low-income Americans. Blackburn’s efforts would also harm many college students who use Planned Parenthood’s services to access smart family planning methods such as birth control.


Marsha Blackburn won’t stand for equal pay for women, won’t stand for preventing violence against women … and won’t protect women’s health.


Additionally, last year, Blackburn was booed at a town hall when she said “I think [Education Secretary] Ms. DeVos is going to be a fine secretary.” Earlier this month, The New York Times outlined Devos’s proposed changes to Title IX which would weaken sexual assault prevention and enforcement in schools because she believes (with little evidence) that the current rules are unfair to those accused of sexual assault. We’re all aware of Vanderbilt’s well-documented history of sexual assault cases. In 2016, Vanderbilt ranked 22nd among colleges with the most reports of rape. And we know that the majority of sexual assaults go unreported. In 2015, nearly 1 in 4 women on college campuses reported experiencing sexual assault or misconduct, so chances are that we all know someone who has gone through the same trauma as Dr. Ford. Betsy DeVos is actively trying to make the situation worse on our campus, and Marsha Blackburn supports what she does.


With just over a month until election day, it is critical that college students do their research on candidates, particularly those whose voting records will work against us. To recap: Marsha Blackburn won’t stand for equal pay for women, won’t stand for preventing violence against women out of hatred for others and won’t protect women’s health. Now, she wants the Senate to ram through a Supreme Court nominee who has been credibly accused of sexual assault and who could fundamentally upend women’s rights, just to confirm a 5th Supreme Court justice who has a demonstrated desire to overturn Roe v. Wade. Marsha Blackburn does not stand for women. She never has. She shouldn’t be trusted to make laws for all American women.


Mary Hanna is a junior in the College of Arts and Science. She can be reached at [email protected]