The Corner

Law & the Courts

Back to Anita Hill

Naturally, people are talking about her, with former vice president Joe Biden — chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time of the Thomas/Hill hearings — saying that Christine Blasey Ford shouldn’t be “vilified” as Hill was.

The situations are of course different in important respects. Judge Kavanaugh has been accused of much worse behavior than then-Judge Thomas was. The alleged behavior was also more recent, making it easier for senators to evaluate.

Adam White recently summarized some of the facts that went into that evaluation:

Not a single colleague of Hill’s came forward to support her allegations. In stark contrast, the very last panel heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee featured eight women, seven of whom had worked with Thomas at the EEOC, the Department of Education, and in Senator John Danforth’s office. . . .

Each was given three minutes to speak, and each of them forcefully rejected the charges. Johnson, herself the victim of sexual harassment at a previous job, offered the most powerful testimony. . . .

In her initial meeting with FBI agents, she omitted many of the salacious details that later exploded in the Senate confirmation hearings. As Hill presented a much more scandalous story to the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, and Arlen Specter had questions about why her story had changed so dramatically. “I did not tell the FBI all of the information,” Hill replied to Specter, because the “FBI agent made clear that if I were embarrassed about talking about something, that I could decline to discuss things that were too embarrassing, but that I could provide as much information as I felt comfortable with at that time.”

But her account was immediately disputed by both of the FBI agents who had interviewed her, Special Agents Jolene Smith Jameson and John B. Luton, who observed her Senate testimony and then filed statements detailing what they described as Hill’s untruthfulness.

A liberal group is nonetheless on the air labeling both Thomas and Kavanaugh as “sexual predators.” So there are, unfortunately, parallels between the cases as well.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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