Clarence Thomas Is Still On The Supreme Court, But He's A Very Quiet Member
One of the most famous cases of alleged workplace sexual harassment will be depicted in HBO's film Confirmation and its premiere brings renewed attention to the two main players — Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. When President H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court, his initial hearings were nothing out of the ordinary — but a leaked FBI interview with his former employee, Hill, changed everything. After the leak, Hill agreed to take the stand and she provided detailed descriptions of the alleged sexual harassment she claims she endured while working for Thomas. He vehemently denied her claims during the hearings, and Thomas was ultimately confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice in October 1991. In one of the narrowest margins in history, the Senate voted 52 to 48 in favor of Thomas. But, 25 years after the highly-publicized hearings, what is Clarence Thomas doing now?
Thomas has largely avoided interviews with the media, but he published a bestselling memoir entitled My Grandfather's Son in 2007. The book provides his version of the hearings and he wrote that he suffered from depression and despair after the acrimonious, highly-publicized event. Although he remains a Supreme Court Justice, he has been extremely quiet in this role. In February, The New York Times reported that Thomas had not asked a question from the bench in a decade — this stands out because it's been 45 years since a Justice went through a single term without asking a question. Thomas described this unusual approach as strategic during a Harvard Law School lecture: “I think it’s unnecessary in deciding cases to ask that many questions, and I don’t think it’s helpful ... I think we should listen to lawyers who are arguing their cases, and I think we should allow the advocates to advocate.”
In March, The Huffington Post reported that Thomas had finally broken his silence during Voisine vs. United States, a case about a federal law that bans domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms. The outlet reported that he asked about 10 questions and defended the Second Amendment when he spoke.
Thomas' wife, Virginia, is one of his biggest supporters. They wed in 1987 and he also has a son, Jamal, from his first marriage. In a somewhat strange turn of events, The New York Times reported that Virginia Thomas called Anita Hill in 2010 and demanded an apology from Hill. According to the NYT, Virginia later released a statement saying it was a "peacemaking gesture" and expressed that she would like to meet up with Hill if she was willing. According to the NYT, Hill responded, "I appreciate that no offense was intended, but she can’t ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive." Thomas did not publicly comment on his wife's phone call or Hill's response.
When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February, USA Today described Thomas as "Scalia's closest ally on the bench" and the outlet reported that he recited scripture readings at Scalia's funeral service. Although he avoids the spotlight, Thomas has been very clear that he maintains his innocence when it comes to Hill's allegations.