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Roe v. Wade Attorney vs. Clarence Thomas and Joe Biden (1991)

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Published on 06 Jul 2022 / In News and Politics
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On July 1, 1991, President George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court of the United States to replace Thurgood Marshall, who had announced his retirement.[1] At the time of his nomination, Thomas was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; President Bush had appointed him to that position in March 1990.

The nomination proceedings were contentious from the start, especially over the issue of abortion. Many women's groups and civil rights groups opposed Thomas on the basis of his conservative political views, just as they had opposed Bush's Supreme Court nominee from the previous year, David Souter.[2]

Toward the end of the confirmation process, sexual harassment allegations against Thomas by Anita Hill, a law professor who had previously worked under Thomas at the United States Department of Education and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, were leaked to the media from a confidential FBI report. The allegations led to further investigations and to a media frenzy about sexual harassment. Televised hearings were re-opened and held by the Senate Judiciary Committee before the nomination was moved to the full, Democratic-controlled Senate for a vote.[3]

On October 15, 1991, Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States by a narrow Senate majority of 52 to 48. He took the oath of office on October 23, 1991.

Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, reporters for The Wall Street Journal, wrote an article for the May 24, 1993 issue of The New Yorker challenging David Brock's assertions. The two authors would later conclude in an investigative book on Thomas that "the preponderance of the evidence suggests" that Thomas lied under oath when he told the committee he had not harassed Hill.[40][68] Mayer and Abramson say Biden abdicated control of the Thomas confirmation hearings and did not call Angela Wright to the stand.[40] They report that four women traveled to Washington, D.C., to corroborate Anita Hill's claims, including Wright and Jourdain.[40]

According to Mayer and Abramson, soon after Thomas was sworn in, three reporters for The Washington Post "burst into the newsroom almost simultaneously with information confirming that Thomas' involvement with pornography far exceeded what the public had been led to believe."[69] These reporters had eyewitness testimony and video rental records showing Thomas' interest in and use of pornography.[70] However, according to Jeffrey Toobin, because Thomas was already sworn in by the time the video store evidence emerged, The Washington Post dropped the story.[69] The book by Mayer and Abramson was subsequently made into a movie.

Strange Justice was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1994 and received an extraordinary amount of media attention.[71] Conservatives like John O'Sullivan panned the book, while liberals such as Mark Tushnet praised it, saying it established "that Clarence Thomas lied" during the hearings.

Showtime dramatized the confirmation hearing in the 1999 television movie Strange Justice that stars Delroy Lindo as Thomas and Regina Taylor as Hill. The film aired on Showtime on August 29, 1999.

HBO dramatized the confirmation hearing in the 2016 film Confirmation that stars Kerry Washington as Hill and Wendell Pierce as Thomas. The film aired on HBO on April 16, 2016.[77]

Clarence Thomas discussed his confirmation hearings and the Anita Hill allegations in the 2020 documentary Created Equal: Clarence Thomas In His Own Words.[78]

Sarah Catherine Ragle Weddington (February 5, 1945 – December 26, 2021) was an American attorney, law professor, advocate for women's rights and reproductive health, and member of the Texas House of Representatives. She was best known for representing "Jane Roe" (real name Norma McCorvey) in the landmark Roe v. Wade case before the United States Supreme Court. She also was the first woman General Counsel for the US Department of Agriculture.

Kate Michelman (born August 4, 1942) is an American political activist. She is best known for her work in the United States abortion rights movement, particularly as a long-time president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Faye Wattleton (born Alyce Faye Wattleton; 8 July 1943) is an American reproductive rights activist who was the first African American and the youngest president ever elected of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the first woman since Margaret Sanger to hold the position. She is currently Co-founder & Director at EeroQ, a quantum computing company. She is best known for her contributions to family planning and reproductive health, and the reproductive rights movement.

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