Justice Thomas's Memoir

DavidEBernstein at aol.com DavidEBernstein at aol.com
Wed Dec 5 15:22:03 PST 2007

Let's go over this one more time.  Michael Zimmer wrote that the logic  of 
the situation is that Hill was telling the truth. Why? "Then-Judge Thomas had  
all to gain by denying Professor Hill's claim and she had little to  gain, but 
doing her civic duty, bycoming  forward."
It's not 100% whether Prof. Zimmer was addressing her initial claim, made  
confidentially to the Judiciary Committee, her ultimate willingness to come  
forward and testify against him, or both (though the context implied to me  
both).  So I addressed both, and showed that in neither case does "logic"  dictate 
that she was telling the truth (nor does it dictate that she was  lying).  I 
should note that she had the choice at both points not to come  forward.
When the allegation was first made, confidentially, Prof. Hill may just  have 
been doing her civic duty, or she may have disliked Thomas for person,  
ideological, or other reasons.  If the latter, than she did have something  to 
gain--personal satisfaction at helping to defeat Thomas--but also nothing to  
lose, assuming, fairly I think that she trusted the committee to keep her  
allegations confidential.
Once the allegations became public, Prof. Hill could have demurrred from  
pursuing them further, or she could do what she did.  At this point,  Michael 
Zimmer's post suggests that he still thinks she had little to  gain.  But she did 
gain, as is obvious, winning fame, fortune and adulation  (though also, of 
course, suffering attacks from the right).  And if she had  declined to testify, 
not only would she not have gained, some people would have  surmised that she 
was unwilling to publicly assert her allegations because they  weren't true 
to begin with, which couldn't have helped her.
And, to address another of Prof. Alexander's points, Prof. Hill was  
certainly obscure, having no citations in the Westlaw database (beyond here own  two 
publications and one "thank you") as of the end of 1990.  That doesn't  make 
her "unqualfied," but it does mean that she would have been highly unlikely  (to 
put it mildly) to come to Brandeis's attention but for the Thomas-Hill  
Brandeis, after all, simply doesn't go out and recruit law professors  for 
anything.  No one else on Brandeis's legal studies faculty is a former  law 
professor, _http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/legal_studies/faculty.html_ 
(http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/legal_studies/faculty.html) ,  and I believe the rest 
all have Ph.Ds, as I believe was true when I was an  undergraduate there.
In a message dated 12/5/2007 5:30:12 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
jca at stanford.edu writes:

David  Bernstein's original post (see below) said that Professor Hill 
"did gain,  big time" in that she is "now a well-known chaired 
professor and feminist  icon at Brandeis" and that "she had nothing to 
gain, but did gain, big  time, doesn't make much sense."  That is, he 
implies that Professor  Hill expected to gain professionally (and 
economically) by her  testimony.  In the very next sentence, he says 
that she did not  expect her allegations to be made public.  So, she 
expected a payback  in the form of a better job from testimony that 
she was promised would not  be made public?  It would be quite a 
conspiracy that could get an  endowed chair for an "obscure" (and by 
implication unqualified) professor  through the appointments process 
at a university like Brandeis as payback  for nonpublic testimony.
Janet  Alexander


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