Clarence Thomas: Commit perjury, get a Supreme Court seat for life. (EEOC photo via Wikimedia Commons)
In leaving an early-morning voicemail for Professor Anita Hill, insisting that she apologize to Clarence Thomas for "what you did with my husband", Ginni Thomas has re-ignited scrutiny into Thomas’ testimony at his confirmation hearing. That scrutiny does not leave the Supreme Court justice in a flattering light. In fact, yet another credible witness has come forward today, adding one more person relating a nearly identical description of Thomas’ outrageous behavior toward women (pdf) and his obsession with pornography. With multiple victims of Thomas’ inappropriate behavior coming forward, the question now must be asked why we allow a Supreme Court justice to remain on the bench when it is clear that he committed perjury in his confirmation hearing by categorically denying confirmed events.
Today’s Washington Post carries a long article about Lillian McEwen, who met Thomas in 1979 and dated him from 1981 to 1986. McEwen confirms to the Post Thomas’ obsession with pornography and his objectification of women in the workplace:
"He was obsessed with porn," she said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."
McEwen added that she had no problem with Thomas’s interests, although she found pornography to be "boring."
According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.
Sadly, even though the Senate Judiciary Committee was aware of additional victims of Thomas’ inappropriate behavior (and was even in discussions with Angela Wright that could have led to corroborating testimony), the absence of other testimony allowed Thomas to slip this lie into the record, as recounted in the Post article:
If I used that kind of grotesque language with one person, it would seem to me that there would be traces of it throughout the employees who worked closely with me, or the other individuals who heard bits and pieces of it or various levels of it.
Well, Justice Thomas, it’s not just "traces" of that behavior, we now have many examples. In 1994, the Washington Post published a long article about Angela Wright, another of Thomas’ victims. Although the article now is behind a pay wall, a pdf copy has been put here.
It opens by describing Wright’s response to watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings on television:
But there was nothing theoretical in Wright’s reaction to what she was watching on TV, nothing intuitive about her assumption that Hill was telling the truth.
Angela Wright remembers thinking: I believe her because he did it to me.
The article quotes part of the transcript of a Senate Judiciary Committee interview of Wright that was conducted by telephone and entered into the hearing record quietly:
"Yes, I can tell you that during the course of the year that I worked for Clarence Thomas, there were several comments that he made. Clarence Thomas did consistently pressure me to date him. At one point, Clarence Thomas made comments about my anatomy. Clarence Thomas made comments about women’s anatomy quite often. At one point, Clarence Thomas came by my apartment at night, unannounced and uninvited, and talked in general terms, but also … he would try to move the conversation over to the prospect of my dating him."
So, we now are in a position of having a sitting Supreme Court justice who has been demonstrated to have committed perjury during his confirmation hearing. Multiple credible witnesses corroborate and extend Anita Hill’s testimony. That Thomas continues to hold his post is testimony to the corrupt nature of politics in the United States today. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob, but Clarence Thomas lied about a repeated pattern of objectification of women and he continues to serve on the Supreme Court in good standing and even has fans calling on him to run for President.
If Clarence Thomas had an ounce of integrity about him, he would resign from the Supreme Court, apologize to women for his past behavior and do his best to slip quietly from the scene. Of course, there is zero chance of that happening.