In 1991,  Anita Hill testified against Supreme Court Associate  Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing.  Hill had worked  for Thomas at the Department of Education and at EEOC.  Under oath, she testified that Thomas had made sexual remarks to her during the time they were both at DoEd and EEOC. Thomas was confirmed 52-48 but the hearings were extremely contentious and almost everyone had an opinion on Anita Hill.  The support and condemnation usually ran along party lines.  


According to the New York Times:

In a voice mail left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9 — the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend — Virginia Thomas asked her husband’s former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The Times.

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometimes and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Ms. Hill, in an interview, said she kept the message for nearly a week trying to decide whether the caller really was Ms. Thomas or a prankster. Unsure, she said, she decided to turn it over to the Brandeis campus police with a request to convey it the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I though it was certainly inappropriate,” Ms. Hill said. “It came in at 7:30 a.m. on my office phone from somebody I didn’t know, and she is asking for an apology. It was not invited. There was no background for it.”

In a statement conveyed through a publicist, Ms. Thomas confirmed leaving the message, which she portrayed as a peacemaking gesture. She did not explain its timing.

“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago,” she said. “That offer still stands. I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

The olive branch seems to come with a very accusatory tone attached to it.  Ms. Hill feels she told the truth which she was required to so and she owes no one an apology. 

What is Virginia Thomas thinking? Why dredge up the past after nearly 20 years.  To call someones office at that hour of the morning, on a weekend when the likelihood of the person being there is fairly remote,  is nothing short of harassment.  Mrs. Thomas is already under fire for being too much of an activist with her husband sitting on the Supreme Court.   Most spouses of Justices keep a very low profile politically, much like a General’s spouse must do. 

It now seems that Anita Hill is the one who should receive an apology.  I hope she gets it. 

13 Thoughts to “Leave it alone, Ginni Thomas–No more crank calls”

  1. Rick Bentley

    Totally disagree with you. She called the police because she got a phone message she didn’t like, that wasn’t threatening? To me this incident shows that Hill has a screw loose, which most people suspected to start with.

    My best guess as to what happened between Hill and Thomas is that he wasn’t particularly sexually harassing her, just trying to loosen her up because she is wound tighter than a drum. For example, the spectacle of all those Senators describing the pubic hair on a code can joke (made after discussing “The Exorcist”) is ridiculous.

    Ms. Hill is not a villian. She did what she thought was right, and a villian like Howard Metzenbaum decided to put her and Thomas through what happened. But she is an exceptionally tightly wound person. Calling the police over that phone call is absurd.

  2. Rick, Anita Hill has received hundreds of death threats over the years. She should have called the police. Remember that she became a household name. Feelings were very strong on both sides and very few people were neutral.

    Maybe she is uptight. That’s her right. I expect she is one of those people who demands perfection from herself. She is one of 13 kids or something like that and grew up in a very poor environment.

    Enough on Anita Hill. She is a victim. Why would Mrs. Thomas ask her to apologize? Why would she call when she knew she wouldn’t be there and leave that message?

    I never thought for one minute that Ms. Hill was lying. I feel as strongly now as I did then. We will never know, however, because neither you nor I were there. The only thing we can evaluate is the appropriateness of Mrs. thomas’ current behavior.

  3. Rick Bentley

    This was not a death threat. And I completely relate to Mrs. thomas’ concern for her husband’s reputation and desire to get Ms. Hill to reevaluate.

    1. @Rick,

      Its over. Its been over. Why would Mrs. Thomas stick her nose in it after 20 years? His reputation should be built on his work on the Supreme Court. Anything else is he said/she said.

      No, it wasn’t a death threat. However, if you had a jolt like that from the past, what would you do? She turned it over to the Brandeis Security. That was probably very smart. Part of the criticism of her back in 1991 was that if she had problems with what was going on at work, she should have said something at the time. Well, now you are criticizing her for alerting the authorities. Damned if she does/damned if she doesn’t.

  4. Morris Davis

    Your analogy to a General’s spouse (used to just be wives, but there are quite a few husbands of Generals now) is fitting. I used to do standards of conduct briefings for senior officer spouses and some bristled at the notion that their actions and those of their immediate family members were attributed to their military spouses. The concern wasn’t so much actual impropriety as it was the appearance of impropriety … the suspicion that the boss’ wife got special treatment. One example is selling stuff to subordinates and their family members, which means senior officer spouses usually can’t get sell Mary Kay and Longaberger baskets and such on the installation. One spouse, in a rather hostile tone, said to me “the Air Force has no business interfering with my right to sell to whoever I want.” I responded, “the Air Force has no authority to stop you from doing anything, but keep in mind that while you may have the right to solicit the spouses of your husband’s subordinates he doesn’t have a right to be a commander; that’s a privilege, not a right.” Most seniors officers and their spouses understood and bent over backwards to avoid anything that might raise an appearance issue. It seems that throughout history the spouses of Supreme Court justices kind of followed the same approach … until now. If some want to blame Anita Hill for reporting a creepy call to the campus police fine, but to me for the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice to make such a call to begin with is just plain stupid. Fortunately for Justice Thomas, Supreme Court justices aren’t held to the same standard as military officers.

  5. Thanks for shedding further light, Moe.

    I have a close friend whose husband is a full colonel in the air force. She won’t do anything that reeks of politics, including joining any unions that are related to her job. Nothing happens to her. However, John might want to be a general one day….

    People don’t seem to understand that while an employer can’t/doesn’t necessarily have direct control over what you say and do, down the road when those promotions come up, they have total control.

    Mrs. Thomas is in a unique position for sure. She is breaking with tradition and protocol. Perhaps her behavior can and should make confirmation to the Supreme Court even dicier. Once they are on there…we are stuck with them. Even the number of justices is not written in stone.

    I just don’t know what she is thinking…being political or calling Ms. Hill.

  6. Emma

    I always had a hard time believing Hill (why didn’t she complain or leave her job? why did she follow Thomas to another job?), but this phone call was boneheaded. Better to write an opinion column if you want some kind of “closure”, or perhaps an open letter. But calling and then leaving a weird voicemail after all these years? What a dipstick.

  7. Morris Davis

    I wonder which argument carries more weight … the one he hears in the courtroom or the bedroom?,0,2002825.story

  8. Bear

    Antonin G. Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. are probably the two worst Justices on the Court and are both close to the Koch Brothers although not illegal it’s certainly inappropriate. So I believe her husband’s reputation is a moot point!

  9. Morris Davis

    We had to buy carpet recently and the Koch brothers pushed me away from Stainmaster since it puts money in their pockets and then funds right wing insurgents. I don’t buy Hugo Chavez gas from Citgo and fund our enemies.

    I see that Ginni has issued a decision on Obamacare (it’s unconstitutional). We’re awaiting her ruling on don’t ask, don’t tell.

  10. Anita Hill had told a friend. She did not want to testify. I don’t know how old you were at the time this all happened, Emma, but I still remember the rules being real soft and mushy on the subject of sexual harassment back then. I can remember many inappropriate things being said and discussed in the work place. The chain of command for complaint were also unclear.

    Finally, women have been putting up with all sorts of crap like that for years, because they need a job. And yes, men sometimes have to put up with it also. I have seen that with my own 2 eyes also.

    I never doubted Anita Hill even for a minute. Combining her background and her demeanor just made me not doubt her. The fact she didn’t want to be there made her more believable. But regardless, none of us will ever know the real truth except Thomas and Hill. Does it matter? He has been an associate justice for nearly 20 years and she has been a college professor.

    The real question becomes what on earth is going on in the Thomas’s life that would force Ginnie to make such a stupid, irresponsible move? I can’t imagine. What was she thinking?

  11. Moe, I would say that pillow talk speaks a lot more than any argument heard.

    The Thomas situation has been bothering me since I first learned of it earlier in the year. Now she is harassing Anita Hill, it becomes even more problematic. Frankly, he needs to step down because of conflict of interest.

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