GOP senator still bitter Clarence Thomas' sexual harassment was exposed


Sen. Chuck Grassley thinks Republican Supreme Court nominees should never be criticized.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) defended Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by complaining about the treatment of former nominees — from decades ago.

Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and apparently he felt that discussing the treatment of Robert Bork, nominated in 1987, and Clarence Thomas, nominated and confirmed in 1991, somehow rebutted opposition to Kavanaugh.

"Liberal outside groups, and their Senate allies, engaged in an unprecedented smear campaign against Judge Robert Bork," Grassley said.

Grassley then positively cited a Wall Street Journal op-ed from Mark Pulliam that claimed, "Character assassination proved an effective tactic, nearly sinking Justice Clarence Thomas’s appointment four years later."

But Grassley is trying to rewrite history. Bork was rejected in a bipartisan vote, 58-42, with 6 Republicans opposing the nomination from President Ronald Reagan, largely because many Americans rejected his extremist views.

But what really debunks Grassley's case is the fact that Thomas made it onto the Supreme Court, where he has served since 1991.

His confirmation hearings revealed a culture of sexual harassment that Thomas oversaw at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Anita Hill worked as Thomas' subordinate at the EEOC as well as at the Department of Education. In her testimony, Hill said Thomas often propositioned her sexually, made inappropriate sexual remarks in the office, and bragged inappropriately about his own sexual prowess.

Hill took a polygraph test that said she told the truth about her claims.

Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee: "It seems to me that the behavior has to be evaluated on its own with regard to the fitness of this individual to act as an Associate Justice. It seems to me that even if it does not rise to the level of sexual harassment, it is behavior that is unbefitting an individual who will be a member of the Court."

Grassley has done a poor job of accurately describing these conservative encounters with the court. Instead of being honest about Bork's beliefs and Thomas' actions, he made them both out to be victims.

Neither man was a victim.

They just got caught in front of America being who they are. Bork paid a price, thanks to bipartisan opposition. Thomas, however, who sits on the Supreme Court even today, never did.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.