After a bitter confirmation hearing, the U.S. Senate votes 52 to 48 to verify Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In July 1991, Thurgood Marshall, the initial African American to take a seat on the Supreme Court, announced his retirement immediately after 34 years. President George Bush speedily nominated Clarence Thomas, a 43-year-old African American judge recognized for his conservative beliefs, to fill the seat. Thomas have been chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) through the Reagan administration, and in 1990 Bush had appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals. As the confirmation hearings for Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination got underway, he evaded controversy a lot more than his conservative views on concerns such as for example abortion by refusing to convey an obvious political position. He seemed headed for a straightforward confirmation until Anita Hill, a former aide, stepped and accused him of sexual harassment forward.
Hill, who had served being an aide to Thomas at the Department of Education and the EEOC throughout the 1980s, alleged that the Supreme Court nominee had repeatedly created sexually offensive comments to her within an apparent campaign of seduction. Beginning on October 11, 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee held 4 days of televised hearings on Hill’s charges. Americans have been shocked by both frankness of Hill’s lurid testimony and the unsympathetic response of the all-male committee, a few of whom have been openly antagonistic toward Hill. Thomas, meanwhile, denied the charges, plus some witnesses known as on his behalf cast doubt on Hill’s character and mental stability. On October 15, the Senate narrowly voted to approve Thomas’ confirmation.
Although the hearings left the Senate and the country deeply divided, the episode served to foster a larger public knowing of the issue of sexual harassment at work. In taking a lot more than the seat of the ultra-liberal Thurgood Marshall, Thomas contributed considerably to the conservative character of the nation’s highest court in the 1990s and following the turn of the century.