Anita Hill, the woman who opposed Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court by alleging sexual harassment, is now blasting President Bush’s selection of John Roberts, claiming it’s a step back for diversity and fears it could lead to “an all-white-male Supreme Court.”
In a commentary published in Newsday, Hill, who is now a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University, writes:
“[W]as John Roberts chosen because he’s the best choice for the court or because he may easily be confirmed? And why not choose a woman to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court? Or use this as an opportunity to nominate the first Latino to the court?
“Not surprisingly, the answer to these questions has to do with the politics of confirmability. One thing is certain: If nominees are selected based on the very narrow and elite credentials that brought us John Roberts, a wide range of equally qualified, more diverse candidates will never even be considered.”
Hill admits not much is known about Roberts’ political ideology, but notes “his career has been built on membership in increasingly elitist institutions that include few women and Latinos or other ethnic minorities.”
Judge John Roberts
“With O’Connor on the bench, the Supreme Court was the most diverse in its history,” Hill continued. “If confirmability through the Roberts ‘primer’ becomes the rule, it is not hard to imagine a return to an all-white-male Supreme Court.
“The nomination process may have become so politicized that the only secure nomination is someone who is an ultimate Washington insider, liked by both sides. If so, it misses a chance to reflect the experiences of the vast majority of Americans. Moreover, a gold standard for judicial selection based on exclusivity appears to contradict the values of ever-expanding opportunities we espouse.”
Hill’s opinion is prompting reaction from bloggers across the Internet, including one from Jon Henke, who said, “Good Lord, is she really arguing that appointments to the Supreme Court should be made based on skin color and gender, rather than judicial merits? Is she really arguing that we’re paying too much attention to merit and not enough to appearance?”
Another writes, “It’s ironic that the woman who did her best to torpedo court diversity during the Clarence Thomas hearings, is now such a huge advocate.”
In 1991, Hill nearly derailed the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas by claiming she had been sexually harassed by Thomas when she worked for him years earlier at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
She said Thomas would discuss sexual acts and pornographic films after she rebuffed his invitations to date him.
In response to the allegations, Thomas called Senate hearings on the matter “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”
He was eventually confirmed by the Senate by a 52-48 vote.