awaii Senator Mazie Hirono has been quietly continuing her practice of asking every federal judiciary nominee whether they have ever been accused of sexual misconduct for months now. And to anyone who would criticize her for it, or for her other pointed questions about their commitment to civil rights, Hirono has just two words: “F*** them!”
In an interview with NPR, Hirono, a Democrat, said her line of questioning isn’t to stoke the fires of partisan politics but to vet judges who “care about individual and civil rights.”
“If that’s considered liberal, as opposed to what I call justice and fairness, as I am wont to say, f*** them!” Hirono said.
Hirono first introduced questions about nominees’ histories with sexual misconduct in January, when she and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were holding a hearing for Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Kurt Engelhardt. During the hearing, Hirono asked him point-blank if he had ever “made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature.”
Engelhardt said he’d never done any of those things. More importantly, he denied doing them under oath—which would mean that, should he or any other nominee lie to Hirono during their judiciary hearings about questions of harassment or assault, he or she would have perjured themselves.
Starting today, I’m asking nominees to our courts, under oath, whether or not they have a history of sexual assault or harassment. Like in other industries, our judges are in positions of power & #TimesUp.
“The nominee answered my questions and that was that,” Hirono said in a statement to Newsweek at the time. “And that is how it should be. I want nominees who come before me in the Senate to know that these questions are about to become normal.
“We all have a responsibility to take action to stop sexual harassment and assault, and create lasting cultural change,” Hirono continued. “This means keeping this issue on the front burner. Women have endured this behavior since time immemorial, and this line of questioning is a step I can take as a U.S. senator to hold accountable nominees who will be in positions of power.”
As a senator, Hirono was once known as Hawaii’s “good girl” politician, but she has quickly earned a different reputation in the Trump era, for being a “badass,” as NPR notes. She fights many of her battles on the judiciary committee—with rigorous questions for each Trump nominee on their professional record and personal histories—but she’s also taken on Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and called out the president for being a “liar.” And she doesn’t back down from any of these statements or stances.
“As I tell my staff, people are getting screwed in this country every single second, minute, hour of the day,” she told NPR. “And, by our efforts, if we can decrease that number, we will be making a difference. We will be doing our jobs.”
So has Trump and the current Republican-controlled Congress brought out a certain spark in Hirono, or was she a “badass” all along?
“I always was,” Hirono told NPR. “I just wasn’t very noisy about it. I’ve been a fighter all my life. I just don’t look like that.”
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono has continued to ask President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees about whether they have ever been accused of sexual misconduct.AL DRAGO/GETTY IMAGES