U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has previously come under the microscope for allegations of sexual misconduct. However, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, more women have come forward with similar accusations, and new evidence suggests that Thomas lied about his behavior to secure his position on the Supreme Court.
Thomas was, of course, famously accused by Anita Hill in 1991. However, on the day that Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape hit the presses, another female employee, Moira Smith, said the Supreme Court Justice groped her in 1999. The National Law Journal reported on Smith's allegation, but it seemed to have been lost in the media frenzy surrounding the 2016 election.
As Jill Abramson of New York Magazine notes, the relative silence surrounding the multiple allegations against Thomas are particularly alarming given his office’s influence over women’s rights. “His worldview, with its consistent objectification of women, is the one that’s shaping the contours of what’s possible for women in America today, more than that of just about any man alive, save for his fellow justices,” she writes. According to Abramson, there were “four women who wanted to testify, or would have if subpoenaed, to corroborate aspects of Hill’s story. My new reporting shows that there is at least one more who didn’t come forward. Their “Me Too” voices were silenced.”
In her piece, Abramson raises the inevitable question of impeachment, and not just for doing things like allegedly talking about porn with female colleagues, but also for “the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath” denying the accusations. Abramson, who has a lengthy history reporting on the Anita Hill case for a book she co-authored on the subject, claims there were “three other women who had experiences with Thomas at the EEOC that were similar to Hill’s, and four people who knew about his keen interest in porn but were never heard from publicly. The evidence that Thomas had perjured himself during the hearing was overwhelming.”
One of the women who was never called to testify in the Hill case was Angela Wright. She alleged that Thomas had told her he found the hair on her legs sexy and made comments about her breasts. According to Abramson, Wright’s testimony would have been some of the most damning and may have cost Thomas his nomination to the Supreme Court. But perhaps it’s not the number buried accusations against him that are the most troubling, but, should the allegations be true, how a man like Thomas may affect policy as it relates to women.
In 2013, he cast the deciding fifth vote in Vance v. Ball State University that narrowed the definition of who counts as a supervisor in cases of workplace harassment, which “let a lot of people off the hook,” as Abramson puts it.