Monday, October 25, 2010
Dear Anita, are you there? It’s me, Ginny.
When you think of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the following topics come to mind: his failure to ask a question during oral argument since 2006, his conservative judicial philosophy, and Anita Hill.
In 1981, Hill was an attorney-adviser to Thomas at the U.S. Department of Education and then followed him to his position at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ten years later, she was called to testify at his Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing for her allegations that Thomas made sexually provocative statements toward her during their employment together. Thomas denied the allegations and stated that the confirmation process had become a “circus” resulting in “high-tech lynching of uppity blacks”. See Hearing Transcript.
Now almost twenty –years later, the N.Y. Times reports that Ginny, Thomas’ wife, asked Hill to apologize and provide a full explanation for her actions. Hill insists that she finds Ginny’s extension of an olive branch “offensive” and that she will not apologize for something that she believes is true. It is unclear as to what is more shocking – Ginny’s attempt to regain closure on a two-decade old issue or her method of communication, voicemail.
These two women have never met; however, they have now engaged in an indirect relationship using various methods of communication. In her book, Speaking Truth to Power, Hill noted that Ginny’s accusation of Hill’s interest in Justice Thomas stemmed from Ginny’s unreasonable belief that just because she found her husband to be attractive, other women must as well. Ginny chose to utilize a thirty-second clip on a voicemail to address her concerns. Even for the lovers of brevity, this method of technology is a bit disconcerting. Specifically, the timing and the choice of voice-recognition leads to speculation that perhaps Ginny’s attempt was not an olive branch, but was a way to reignite interest in her life - at a time when she just launched her new non-profit group, Liberty Central. On the other hand, it can be argued that Anita is not an innocent bystander since she reached out to the press by playing the voicemail for N.Y. Times.
Regardless of the semantics of their relationship, it’s even more important to note that despite the geographical difference between these two women, technology reminds us that even Supreme Court Justices are dealing with the age-old story of the wife versus the other women.
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