5 October 2007

Whoop-dee-damn-doo

Radio talk host genuflects over Clarence Thomas answering questions in a nationally televised CBS interview. Supreme Court Justice Thomas, not note for his frequency of public appearances, has been making the rounds in promoting his new book that's stirred up a firestorm of controversy, re-igniting questions about his qualifications for a high court seat.

Interestingly enough, Thomas also appeared on the Rush Limbaugh radio program for a 90 minute lovefest chat. Nothing like a rabid partisan discarding any veneer of impartiality, still lashing out against his accusers from 16 years later. In his newly released autobiography, My Grandfather's Son, he casts himself as a tragic victim, and still possesses a strong vendetta against his political opponents.

But as the years have elapsed since 1991, it's been discovered that Anita Hill was the individual unfairly flogged, as the charges that were levied against Clarence Thomas during his SCOTUS confirmation hearings were indeed true, and collaborated by others.

One really has to wonder: why is Clarence Thomas drudging all of this out now? Anita Hillís claims and Thomasís answers have been exhaustively studied and researched. And the consensus that has emerged is pretty clear: Clarence Thomas perjured himself in the confirmation hearings. Anita Hill was telling the truth. Two major books establish this. One is the award-winning work of Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, then two Wall Street Journal reporters, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. That book turned meticulously through the available evidence, and found that it was very consistentóestablishing Hillís veracity and undermining Thomasís. But far more damning still is the major book which was published to defend Thomas. It was David Brockís The Real Anita Hill, a work that layed out all the attacks that Thomas and his supporters (most prominently Ted Olson) put forth to protect his nomination. Brock later admitted that his book had been commissioned as a hit job to make Thomasís position seem more plausible. As he later admitted to the New York Times, ďI lied in print to protect the reputation of Justice Clarence Thomas.Ē

Yes, the Thomas/Hill spectacle was an ugly confirmation hearing event, but it's not the first time such ugliness erupted over the selection of a Supreme Court Justice. In the 1960's, Republicans torched Abe Fortas in an overzealous prosecution whilst in the 1980's the radical Robert Bork was "bork-ed" by Democrats.

Some other evidence Thomas omitted in his screed:

First, Hill did not wait 10 years to complain about his behavior. Susan Hoerchner, a Yale Law School classmate of Hill's, described how she complained of sexual harassment while working for Thomas, saying the EEOC chairman had "repeatedly asked her out . . . but wouldn't seem to take 'no' for an answer." Ellen Wells, a friend, said Hill had come to her, "deeply troubled and very depressed," with complaints about Thomas's inappropriate behavior. John Carr, a lawyer, said that Hill, in tears, confided that "her boss was making sexual advances toward her." American University law professor Joel Paul said Hill had told him in 1987 that she had left the EEOC because she had been sexually harassed by her supervisor.

Second, Hill was not the only former subordinate of Thomas's with complaints. Former EEOC employee Angela Wright described how Thomas pressured her to date him, showed up uninvited at her apartment and asked her breast size. "Clarence Thomas would say to me, 'You know you need to be dating me. . . . You're one of the finest women I have on my staff," Wright told Senate investigators.

Wright's account was corroborated by Rose Jourdain, a former speechwriter who, like Wright, was dismissed by Thomas. Jourdain said Wright had complained that she was "increasingly nervous about being in his presence alone" because of comments "concerning her figure, her body, her breasts, her legs."

Another former Thomas employee, Sukari Hardnett, said of his office, "If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female."

Some conservative Christian champion, a man who exists in direct contradiction to his own life history. A result and product of civil rights reform, he champions the rollback of such justice enacting measures. Promoted for life to the highest legal perch in the land, he brazenly flaunts his favoritism for his own party. Now, in a most audacious manner, he draws a metaphor of his appointment hearing experience with a lynching.

I recognize that for many, no matter what the record is, the partisan goggles are so tightly screwed on that it makes no difference. Certainly, the fact that unlike any other justice on the court, Thomas was not rated as "well qualified" by the American Bar Association (ABA) and actually garnered two votes of "not qualified" did not sway Republican loyalists. The definite concern that Thomas has committed himself to serve as partisan water carrier, tainted by bitterness against his political opponents, no matter the law in question, is seen, instead, as an asset.

Moving forth, Thomas is now unassailable, in his role of evaluating law. Of primary interest to many is his displayed adherence to "unitary executive", a doctrine that un-American and a throwback to pre-enlightenment era of monarchs.

The unitary executive theory has already cropped up in Supreme Court opinions. In his lone dissent in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice Clarence Thomas cited "the structural advantages of a unitary Executive." He disagreed with the Court that due process demands an American citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker. Thomas wrote, "Congress, to be sure, has a substantial and essential role in both foreign affairs and national security. But it is crucial to recognize that judicial interference in these domains destroys the purpose of vesting primary responsibility in a unitary Executive."

Justice Thomas's theory fails to recognize why our Constitution provides for three co-equal branches of government.

Thomas hasn't been respectful of the fourth amendment either.

And, then, there was The Betrayal of America, where Justice Thomas sided with an egregious decision that was a work of total partisanship. Moreover, Thomas should have recused himself, for his wife was an allied party to President George W. Bush's campaign. Legal scholars believe Bush v. Gore was a sham. Others feel it was a tragedy.

Comments

I agree with "tragedy"

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