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Bench Memos

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The Lights Go Out



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Inside Higher Ed reports that at the University of Georgia some faculty are in an uproar because Supreme Court Justice (and Georgia native) Clarence Thomas has accepted a longstanding invitation to be the commencement speaker this spring.  Thomas has long been a supporter of the university’s scholarship and honors programs, and has visited the law school for talks and interacted with the students there.  So what prompts the outrage now?  Not his jurisprudence, but the age-old discredited charges that he harassed Anita Hill in the 1980s.  Seems there have been some high-profile sexual harassment cases at UGA this year, so, as one hyper-concerned faculty member puts it: “this is not a referendum on guilt or innocence [but] a reaction to the timing of this particular choice given all that’s been going on at UGA.”

Oh, right.  Guilt and innocence don’t matter.  Neither does a career of distinguished public service by a native son of Georgia.  What are they teaching at this place?  All of it puts me in mind of an old song:

Thats the night the lights went out in Georgia
Thats the night that they hung an innocent man



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