Justice Thomas's Memoir
DavidEBernstein at aol.com
DavidEBernstein at aol.com
Tue Dec 4 19:01:37 PST 2007
If she had nothing to gain, why is she now a well-known chaired professor
and feminist icon at Brandeis, as opposed to an obscure professor at University
of Oklahoma? She had nothing to gain, but did gain, big time, doesn't make
Of course, her original allegations were confidential, and she didn't
anticipate they'd become public (and I believe was told as much by her "friends"
working on the Democratic side on the Judiciary Committee, who then leaked it
anyway just before the scheduled vote on his nomination). In which case, she
also thought initially she had nothing to lose. If one could imagine that
Hill held a grudge against Thomas for any reason, or just didn't like him
ideologically, her allegations in that context would make perfect "logical" sense.
The "logic of the situation" therefore does not tell us who was being
truthful. There is additional evidence on both sides, some of which seems highly
persuasive (many women who worked for Thomas swearing that he never behaved
the way Hill described; Hill complaining contemporaneously about her boss).
But weighing such evidence is quite different than stating that the "logic of
the situation" dictates the conclusion. I could just as easily (maybe more
easily) say that logically, a controversial black conservative running the EEOC
in the Reagan adminstration would "logically" go out of his way to avoid any
conduct that if revealed would ruin his reputation and career.
In a message dated 12/4/2007 8:26:46 PM Eastern Standard Time,
zimmermi at shu.edu writes:
I don't think the issue is so starkly partisan, especially as to Professor
Anita Hill, as you suggest. For Justice Thomas to reopen that whole issue is
just very strange. His raising the issue again is unlikely to convince
anyone to change their mind about what happened. She had no personal agenda to
advance in coming forward when she did and certainly has a right now to defend
herself when he attempts to yet again cast aspersions on her. While radicals
sharing Justice Thomas' viewpoint want, and need, to believe him very
desparately, the rest of us have a variety of viewpoints. To say it is
he-said-she-said as if there could never be a finding of truth or significance is just
wrong. While people can come to different conclusions and those conclusions
can be shaped by our different values and world views, to deny that there is
significance because it is simply he-said-she-said suggests the whole thing
is inconsequential. And it is not. Certainly not for Justice Thomas; otherwise
he would never raise this up again only to reopen old wounds, particularly
his own. That it will be to no good effect does show that it is not
The logic of the situation still points in one direction, even after all
these years: Then-Judge Thomas had all to gain by denying Professor Hill's
claim and she had little to gain, but doing her civic duty, by coming forward.
She was and continues to be subjected to attacks that she did not bring on
herself. I know for a fact that she was interested in the developing law of
sexual harassment years before the confirmation hearings. This was at a time when
she was teaching far from any area that had to deal with it.
Michael J. Zimmer
Professor of Law
Seton Hall Law School
One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102
David E. Bernstein
George Mason University School of Law
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