(Oct. 13) Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the Anita Hill hearings . As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s masterful memoir becomes available for the first time on Audiobook and Kindle, it’s worth a reminder that Thomas was innocent .

It’s also worth celebrating Thomas as one of the most inspirational public servants of our lifetimes.

To begin, let’s not mince words: I believe, as then-Sen. Joe Biden did at the time, that Thomas’s onetime aide Anita Hill was lying when she accused Thomas of sexual harassment. She almost certainly concocted her infamous story about a memorably named pornographic character. Her only supporting Senate witness said Hill told her about Thomas’s alleged actions at a time when, it turned out, Hill had never yet worked for Thomas. Hill’s first interviews with the FBI didn’t match her subsequent testimony and in some ways directly contradicted it . And, among plenty of other reason to disbelieve her , a slew of her colleagues testified that they believed “not one word” of her tale.

Neither, at the time, did the public, which by overwhelming numbers believed Thomas instead.

Although the preferred media rule these days is to “believe all women” (except, of course, when women make accusations against liberals such as Joe Biden ), it’s an unreasonable rule. Yes, every accusation by a woman should enjoy initial respect and a temporary presumption of truthfulness, with legitimate investigation to follow — but the key words there are “initial” and “temporary.” As the Thomas hearings showed for all with an open mind, what eventually must matter are facts, evidence (both hard and circumstantial), and other appeals to reason and logic. In Thomas’s case, evidence and logic show his innocence.

Fortunately for this nation, the circus of the Hill hearings 30 years ago wasn’t allowed to define Thomas’s career. A justice of remarkable intellectual consistency and leadership , a legal writer of tremendous clarity , and the foremost practitioner of an uncompromising jurisprudence of “original public meaning” of the Constitution and statutes, Thomas’s legacy will be vaster than would be indicated by a simple accounting of how often he was on the majority or minority side of high court decisions. And, as is attested by even his ideological polar opposite on the court, Sonia Sotomayor , Thomas in person is one of the kindest and most gracious men imaginable. His deep, distinctive laugh alone is a veritable wonder of warmth…. [The full column is at this link.]


Tags: , , ,