Those above a certain age will remember Anita Hill and the explosive confirmation hearings over Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1991. I recall following those events and right from the beginning I believed her story and felt that Thomas was a sleazy character personally with extreme views and should never have been confirmed to the court.
The nomination hearings revealed a disgusting spectacle in which senators indulged in the most vicious attacks on her. I recall senators Arlen Specter and Alan Simpson and Orrin Hatch being some of the worst and I have had nothing but contempt for them ever since. President George H. W. Bush and Clarence Thomas shameless played the race card and Joe Biden, chair of the Judiciary Committee, and many of the Democrats were so feckless that they feared a backlash from the black community if they rejected a black nominee and as a result we have one of the most reactionary, anti-poor, anti-civil rights, anti-women right wing judges on the Supreme Court. Throughout that spectacle I felt that only Hill acted with dignity.
Biden sent the Thomas nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation either way. Thomas was narrowly confirmed by the full senate by a vote of 52 (=41R+11D) to 48 (=46D+2R), in a senate that had a 57-43 Democratic majority. Some of the senators who voted for Thomas are still in office today: John McCain, Charles Grassley, Mitch McConnell, and Orrin Hatch.
Here’s the trailer for a new documentary about Hill called simply Anita. You can be sure that the documentary will bring out once again those Thomas supporters who will resurrect all the ‘she was either lying or asking for it’ apologias.
Jon Stewart interviewed Hill about her experiences and the documentary.
(These clip aired on March 13, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)