Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Clarence Thomas? Why now?

The perjurer on the Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas did, as the preponderance of circumstantial evidence indicates, achieve that post by lying under oath. Twenty years later, in a significantly different environment, it may be possible to reopen this case.

Next to a dirty cop there is nothing as repulsive as a lying judge. Yet, amazingly, there sits on the bench of the highest court of the land a man who, in 1991, achieved that position by twice lying under oath; Clarence Thomas.

Short of having a confession on his part, the evidence against him in the case of Anita Hill is overwhelming. She was a 26 year old recent graduate from Yale with a JD, a conservative from a rural Baptist background when she worked for Thomas. She was 35 years old and a law professor at the University of Oklahoma when she accused him of harassment.

Few people remember the details of his nomination hearings. Plain and simple, when Thomas was nominated, Anita Hill reluctantly accused him of having sexually harassed her during 1981-83 while he was her boss at the US Department of Education and then at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Her testimony, under oath, was simple and straightforward: “He harassed me sexually and this is how he did it.” He had talked to her about pornographic films, group sex, about women having sex with animals, about sexual positions, about the size of his penis and his prowess at oral sex. He did, to his credit, never touch her. (see for the full record of her testimony.) There is other corroborating evidence but her testimony is sufficiently convincing.

He, also under oath, “unequivocally, categorically” asserted that he had never "had conversations of a sexual nature or about pornographic material with Anita Hill.” On the basis of this denial he was confirmed. In addition, even though he similarly denied, again under oath, ever discussing Roe v. Wade--an issue on which he protested neutrality-- the evidence is that he did discuss it with at least three separate individuals and he is clearly not neutral based on his decisions on the Court.

About Hill it was said that she was suffering of “pure feminist dementia,” probably psychotic and that she had hallucinated Thomas’ harassment and honestly believed it to be true. From a psychiatric point of view this is completely implausible. If she did actually completely manufacture these accusations, she would had been suffering from a pathology without parallel in psychiatric history.

A serious, devoted, totally sane, high achieving professional who imagines, reports to friends and then harbors fantasies of harassment for five years before she reported them at the cost of endangering her successful career is simply not a credible story. There is no possible motive or known form of mental derangement that could explain such actions. She was a fully functioning law professor before her accusations, has continued as a respected lecturer on sexual harassment and Supreme Court issues and continues to teach law--now at Brandies University--in the fifteen years since.

The other rather more lame explanations that were offered for her behavior were that 1. She was an incompetent lawyer and was jealous of Thomas’s success, that 2. She made the accusations to propel herself to national fame and that 3. She was in love with Thomas and was taking revenge because he rebuffed her.

On the other hand, it is virtually certain that Thomas harassed her as so many men have harassed women at the workplace before and since. Having thought that his initial denial would be accepted, Thomas, in a classic liar's nightmare, found himself eventually lying to his family his fellow politicians and eventually hundreds of millions of people around the world.

At the time of the hearings in 1991 the majority of blacks, whites men and women believed Thomas. No wonder, given the barrage of anti-Hill propaganda that was unleashed by the Republicans. Within one year as the dust settled the situation became clear and the polls reversed and most people believed Hill. Then in 1992, David Brock thoroughly smeared her with a string of anonymous and unconfirmed anecdotes of rampant sexuality in The Real Anita Hill; a book that became a instant best seller. Brock now recants and regrets having written the book, describing it as “ a cruel smear disguised as a thorough investigation”.

Thomas sits on the bench for life. The question never asked by anyone—Anita Hill, David Brock, or any politician--is: “Can our nation endure a perjurer as Chief of the US Supreme Court?”

Thomas must be impeached and it may be possible to do so:

*Pointing out that a Justice on the Supreme Court is very likely perjurer might trigger an investigation.
*Working women and feminists would rediscover common cause with this issue.
*It’s a great Internet, blog issue. Lots of information and data to be unearthed and evaluated.
*While attacking a black man was in 1991 a problematic act and probably the reason he was confirmed in a 48-52 vote, today, with OJ behind us and Obama in the Presidency it might not arouse African-American ire.

*Admittedly the likelihood that Thomas will be impeached is small but questioning his competence as a Supreme Court judge seems a worthwhile goal.
*Anita Hill declines to comment on the issue saying only it was very painful. She is the one human being that knows for certain that Thomas lied under oath. Perhaps she can be persuaded to make that statement openly: “Judge Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court today based on his perjured testimony at his confirmation hearings, says Anita Hill” would be instant front page news and catastrophic for Thomas.
*Likewise David Brock her best known detractor can be persuaded to state his conviction in clear terms.

Claude Steiner

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