About 10 days ago, Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas called Anita Hill and left a rather bizarre message on her answering machine. She called at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning so it sounds like she wanted to leave a message and deliberately called when she didn’t think she would get Ms. Hill live.
Those of us who remember Anita Hill’s role in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings knew at the time that there was something going on that wasn’t quite what it should be. Word around Washington travels fast and without mercy and the word on the street wasn’t good for old Clarence. Washington, however, isn’t known for its right or wrong as much as it is for its can you prove it or not. Thomas was confirmed by a 52 to 48 vote and the rest was history, or so we thought.
At the time all this was going down, there were several women who did not testify. Turns out they just weren’t good witnesses. That happens a lot. However, a new person has recently risen from the ashes: Lillian McEwen. Ms. McEwen was romantically involved with Thomas in the 80’s and has remained distant but not on bad terms with him since then. According to McEwen:
In the Washington Post, Lillian McEwen says Hill’s allegations fit a pattern:
“He was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners,” McEwen told the Post, adding that he was particularly “partial to women with large breasts” and even would ask woman about their bra size.
“He was obsessed with porn,” McEwen also said of Thomas, a claim that is particularly relevant to Hill’s allegations that the then-chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had repeatedly relayedscenes from pornographic movies to her. “He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting,” McEwen continued.
As for why McEwen has decided to break her silence now, the Postexplains that the woman who partook in Thomas’s “freewheeling sex life” between 1981 and 1986 has a story to tell.
Now are we surprised? No. Clarence Thomas fits the model for many men who have been sexual predators while on the job. Would I take one person’s word for it? No. Not as an absolute. However, I listened to Anita Hill and I knew she was telling the truth. You just know some things. That was one of them.
Perhaps, more to the point is, does it really matter? In the long run, does this behavior affect Thomas’ or any other judge’s ability to do his job? Probably not. I don’t like his rulings but I don’t think it is because he is a sexual predator. Had women stepped forward in the early 90’s perhaps things would be different. And no, he should not have been appointed with all that baggage. But he was, so we must live with it. His wife however, needs to come to grips with the fact that her husband might have some inappropriate behaviors. She needs to deal with him and not go after former employees. Ms. McEwen kept her mouth shut for nearly 20 years. That speaks volumes. Now she has nothing to lose or gain.
Something stirred up Ginni Thomas. Women don’t call up 20 years later offering an olive branch while accusing some strange woman of saying horrible things about her husband. Something riled her up. Something big. It sounds like maybe a few more people have a story to tell, or perhaps Ms. Ginni got some advanced notice that Lillian was looking for a pulisher. Dirty little secrets don’t usually stay little or secrets around Washington. Never have, never will.
And this ladies and gentlemen, is why we always need to keep our profession behavior professional and our party behavior OUTSIDE THE WORK PLACE.