Woman Asks Other Woman for Apology 19 Years Later
by Liz Colville
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, placed a call last Saturday morning to Anita Hill, a former aide to Thomas who accused him of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991. Mrs. Thomas was seeking an apology and “extending an olive branch” to Hill, as she put it to the Times. Ms. Hill played the message, which she kept on her machine and pondered for a week, for the paper. Initially, she thought it was a prank.
“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. 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 sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. 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. O.K., have a good day.”
OK, some of us were wee at the time, so what actually happened? Ms. Hill testified about Thomas during the confirmation hearings — Thomas was nominated by President George Bush to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall — saying that during her time as an aide to Thomas at the Department of Education and Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Thomas “repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments to her in the workplace, including descriptions of pornographic films.” Thomas called Hill’s accusations “high-tech lynching.” In his autobiography, published in 2007, he called Hill “my most traitorous adversary.” (Fancy.) His wife also called for Hill to apologize at the time of the book’s publication.
Then as now, Hill, a professor at Brandeis College, maintains that she has nothing to apologize for. Following the voicemail, Hill told ABC News that “it was in no way conciliatory for her to begin with the presumption that I did something wrong in 1991. I simply testified to the truth of my experience. For her to say otherwise is not extending an olive branch, it’s accusatory.”
Mrs. Thomas, who recently founded the conservative nonprofit group Liberty Central,* has also suggested that Hill had romantic feelings for her husband. Hill addressed that in her own book, 1998’s Speak Truth to Power:
“…One can imagine that she is guided by her own romantic interest in her husband when she assumes that other women find him attractive as well,” Hill wrote.
*An excerpt from Virginia Thomas’s bio on the website of Liberty Central (which declares itself to be “non-partisan” but “constitutionally-minded”): “Ginni is committed to serving as a clearinghouse for new and more effective online activism. Ginni, the ‘proud’ Nebraskan, is a fan of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham and other talk radio hosts. She is intrigued by Glenn Beck and listening carefully. She also enjoys motor homing and watching 24.”