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Constitutional Freedoms

Anita Hill’s Case Proves Christine Blasey Ford Has a Lot to Gain

A $1 million book advance prompted by events in 1991 would be worth more than $1.7 million in 2018 — and that's just for starters

When Professor Anita Hill resigned from the faculty of the University of Oklahoma law school in 1995, she wasn’t teaching. She was instead working on the first of two books for which she had a deal worth more than $1 million with the Doubleday Publishing Company.

It’s doubtful Hill (pictured above, left) would have been able to command such a price had she not, four years earlier in 1991, claimed that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, her former boss at a federal agency, had made improper sexual advances toward her.

To this day, millions of Americans are convinced Hill told the truth, while millions more absolutely believe she made it all up. What is beyond question is that her allegation catapulted her into the history books.

Thomas was confirmed, but by only a 52-48 vote in the Senate — and then only after a showdown in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, in which he said he was the victim of a “high-tech lynching.”

Related: Ford Rejects One-Week Cap on FBI Kavanaugh Query

Hill’s experience more than two decades ago is inevitably being recalled now after another professor, Christine Blasey Ford (shown above right) , accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually molesting her in the early 1980s during a high school party.

Again, millions of Americans believe the accuser, and millions more see major problems with her account, which Kavanaugh has forcibly and repeatedly denied.

His nomination is now awaiting the results of what Senate Republicans and Democrats agreed Friday would be a one-week, limited FBI investigation into Ford’s claims.

One of the most frequently heard arguments on Ford’s behalf is the claim that she “doesn’t stand to gain anything” by coming forward with her allegations about Kavanaugh. But regardless of whether her allegations are true or false, the reality is that Ford is all but certain to be offered a huge advance for a book detailing her experiences.

The $1 million advance Hill received in 1993 following the Thomas debacle would be worth more than $1.7 million today. (The Washington Post that year said rival publishers estimated the advance at “well over $1 million,” but LifeZette’s calculation assumes $1 million in 1993.)

Given the even more sensational nature of Ford’s accusations, compared to Hill’s, however, it is entirely conceivable that the amount required to win an intensely competitive bidding war will be far in excess of that amount.

Something else that didn’t exist in 1991 is the GoFundMe phenomenon made possible by the internet. Ford has already benefited significantly, with supporters creating two such accounts, which have raised an immense amount of money.

Related: Lindsey Graham’s Defining Moment: ‘Most Unethical Sham Since I’ve Been in Politics’

One of the accounts — Help Christine Blasey Ford — raised $528,475 from 11,950 separate donations in 11 days. The owners of the account closed it Friday, promising that “a statement of gratitude from the family will be forthcoming in the next 48 hours. They are eternally grateful. Thank you again for your support.”

The second of the accounts — Cover Dr. Blasey’s Security Costs — raised $209,987 from 6,658 donors before it also was closed, after an 11-day run. Georgetown law professor Heidi Feldman organized this account to cover security costs for the Ford family.

Since both of Ford’s most prominent lawyers — left-wing Democratic resistance activist Debra Katz and former Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich — told the judiciary committee that they are working for her on a pro bono basis, hourly legal fees that can quickly run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars would not need to be covered by the GoFundMe accounts.

That said, the Ford family reportedly has had to move twice and likely has other security costs, which could be significant. A voluntary public accounting of how the GoFundMe money is spent could be a powerful nod to transparency by Ford.

There is also the prospect of a Hollywood movie based on Ford’s life and experiences, along with documentaries — likely accompanied by intense public speculation about which actress would best portray her.

Kavanaugh supporters are also taking advantage of GoFundMe, with conservative blogger John Hawkins creating Brett Kavanaugh’s Family, which has raised $384,390 from 8,107 donors in five days. Hawkins said the funds are for the Kavanaugh family’s “security or however they see fit.”

A second one — Brett Kavanaugh Defense Fund — was begun only Friday and has raised $2,410 from 52 donors.

There are multiple other avenues by which Ford could benefit in significant ways from what has clearly been a difficult experience for her. As a professor, she is an experienced public speaker and could be expected to command premium appearance fees for a long time after the Kavanaugh process is concluded.

There is also the prospect of a Hollywood movie based on Ford’s life and experiences, along with documentaries — likely accompanied by intense public speculation about which actress would best portray her.

There’s one more consideration here to consider: If Kavanaugh’s nomination fails, he will also be certain to receive multiple and potentially lucrative book and speaking opportunities.

For neither Ford nor Kavanaugh will millions of dollars, no matter how much money, change the basic painful facts of their chapter in American judicial and political history.