Did Obama React To The Clarence Thomas Hearings? POTUS Has Some Thoughts About This SCOTUS Justice
Law professor Anita Hill came into the public eye in 1991 when she alleged during now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' televised confirmation hearings that he had sexually harassed her when they used to work together. Thomas vehemently denies her claims. This story resurfaces in the film Confirmation, in which Kerry Washington portrays Hill throughout the controversial hearings. Many people are wondering whether or not President Obama responded to Anita Hill's allegations against Thomas, considering he often speaks out against sexual assault and recently nominated a Supreme Court justice to take over Antonin Scalia's spot.
The short answer is no — Obama didn't make any public statements about the claims back in 199 (when he was a young, visiting fellow at the University of Chicago Law School) and hasn't commented on it now that the film is bringing the subject back to national attention, either. However, President Obama did say while on the campaign trail running for office in 2008 that he wouldn't have appointed Thomas, reported the Huffington Post.
"I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation," the president said. "Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the constitution." Obama added that he also wouldn't have appointed Scalia, despite his "intellectual brilliance."
Hill alleged that Justice Thomas sexually harassed her while he was her boss at the U.S. Department of Education and then the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She initially submitted a confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the alleged incidents that happened 10 years before, but the statement was leaked to reporters two days before Thomas was to be confirmed, leading to public hearings, during which Hill was questioned. In her testimony, Hill claimed Thomas asked her out many times and talked about sex at work, even allegedly describing his own love life to her.
During the hearing, Thomas said, "I have not said or done the things Anita Hill has alleged" and compared the hearings themselves to a "high-tech lynching."
President Obama has taken great strides to address sexual assault issues since taking office, namely launching the "It's On Us" campaign aimed at ending sexual assault on college campuses and signing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. "We're going to keep working to stop sexual assaults wherever they occur," he said in 2014. "Every man and woman, every girl and boy, has the right to be safe and protected and to pursue their own piece of the American dream." However, he doesn't usually speak specifically about sexual harassment in the workplace, a problem that one in three American women deal with, according to a Cosmopolitan survey.