Did Joe Biden Help Set the Stage for the Roe v Wade Decision?

Sunday June 26, 2022

Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas  (Source:Associated Press)

It appears that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a lot to be happy about these days, and he could thank Joe Biden for his place in history.

A visit back in time explains why: The year was 1991 when Delaware's Joe Biden was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee when then-President George H. W. Bush put forward Thomas's nomination to the high court.

While Thomas had little experience having been a judge for just a year, his confirmation appeared to be a slam-dunk until lawyer, educator and author Anita Hill came forward with explosive sexual harassment accusations against Thomas during her tenure as law clerk for the judge.

In a televised hearing on October 11, 1991, Hill said that Thomas had sexually harassed her while he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "During the televised hearings, which lasted three days, Anita F. Hill, who then taught at the University of Oklahoma's law school, detailed allegations of workplace sexual harassment by Judge Thomas, who was her supervisor at two government agencies. And Judge Thomas forcefully denied the accusations, claiming they played into stereotypes of black men," reported the New York Times in 2018.

"The astonishing testimony aired Ms. Hill's accounts of crude behavior and vulgar language, the likes of which had never before been discussed in the buttoned-up hearing rooms of the United States Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee's dismissive treatment of Ms. Hill by the all-male, all-white Senate Judiciary Committee empowered a wave of women to run for state and national office.

"Ms. Hill said that Judge Thomas had repeatedly asked her to go out with him in a social capacity and would not take no for an answer. She said he would talk about sex in vivid detail, describing pornography he had seen involving women with large breasts, women having sex with animals, group sex and rape scenes."

Judge Thomas would also talk about his own "sexual prowess" in workplace conversations, Hill said. And he once mentioned a pornographic film whose star was called "Long Dong Silver," which turned into an infamous name in American political lore.

"It would have been more comfortable to remain silent," she said. "But when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my experience, I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent."

Anita Hill testifies during Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court conformation hearings in 1991
Anita Hill testifies during Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court conformation hearings in 1991  (Source: Associated Press)

But over three days of testimony, Hill was vilified by the committee that Biden presided over. Republican Utah Senator Orin Hatch claimed she was unstable and took her scenario from a scene from "The Exorcist." Reading from the book itself, Mr. Hatch quoted the phrase, "There appeared to be an 'alien pubic hair floating around in my gin.'

"He appeared to draw a direct connection to Ms. Hill's testimony about the Coke can," wrote the Times. "She was never given a chance to rebut his claim." Hatch also accused Hill of using the term "Long Dong Silver," a term Thomas used to describe his penis, from testimony in a Kansas court case.

Ms. Hill's representative introduced testimony that she had passed a liar detector test, but another Republican Senator, Wyoming's Alan Simpson, hit back that she was "delusional" and her lie detector test was irrelevant. He did not mention his source was a member of Judge Thomas's defense team, according to "Strange Justice," a 1994 book on the hearings written by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson.

Then Senator Joe Biden at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991
Then Senator Joe Biden at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991  (Source: Associated Press)

While Biden may not have been able to control his GOP colleagues, he did control the proceedings, which he ended before a number of women were allowed to testify to back up Hill's story.

The New York Times reported in 2019: "One of those potential witnesses, Sukari Hardnett, a lawyer in Silver Spring, Md., said in an interview that she decided to come forward while watching the hearing when she 'saw what they were doing to Anita Hill and how they were literally trying to trash her.' Ms. Hardnett wrote a letter detailing her own experiences and submitted it to the committee through the dean of her law school, expecting to be called to testify. But she said she was not."

A second woman, Angela Wright, also sought to testify, but was also turned down. She later called Mr. Biden "pretty much useless" last year in an interview.

The Times adds: "Ms. Wright, Ms. Hartnett and one other woman, Rose Jourdain, who died in 2010, were ready to back up Ms. Hill's account before the committee, but Mr. Biden ended the hearings before they were heard from in public. Over the years, Mr. Biden has suggested they either backed out or were reluctant."

The Times continued: "Ms. Hill said there was not 'any evidence' of that. But if it is true, she said, there is a possible explanation: 'They saw a flawed process where they weren't going to be heard and they might end up being destroyed.'"

At the start of his presidential campaign in 2019, Biden reached out to Hill to apologize. "On Thursday, the first day of his presidential campaign, the Biden camp disclosed the call, saying the former vice president had shared with Ms. Hill 'his regret for what she endured' 28 years ago, when, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he presided over the confirmation hearings in which she accused Clarence Thomas, President George Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, of sexual harassment," the New York Times reported.

"But Ms. Hill says the call from Mr. Biden left her feeling deeply unsatisfied."

She added that "set the stage" for last year's confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who, like Justice Thomas, was elevated to the court despite accusations against him that he had acted inappropriately toward women. And, she added, she was troubled by the recent accounts of women who say Mr. Biden touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable."

On Friday, President Biden blamed the decision on former President Trump's appointment of three Supreme Court Justices (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett ); but perhaps if he chose to listen to Anita Hill, Thomas would have not been confirmed and his activist revisionism would not have happened. It should also be noted that on Friday, Thomas said one of his next targets is the Obergefell same-sex marriage ruling, the Washington Post reports.

"In future cases, we should reconsider all of this court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell," Thomas said in his concurring opinion.

"We have a duty to 'correct the error' established in those precedents."

"The 2015 Obergefell decision guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marriage; the 2003 Lawrence decision overturned a Texas law which made gay sex criminal. The 1965 Griswold decision allowed married couples to use contraceptives," reports the Post.