"The vote is 52 yays... and 48 nays. The nomination of Clarence Thomas of Georgia as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court has been confirmed." Those were the words of Vice President Quayle I heard on the radio on October 15, 1991. Mixed feelings ran through me, though I do have to admit I was more pleased than upset. Why?
First, I shall express the reasons I like his confirmation. First of all - the most obvious reason - is that I am a right-wing Republican conservative and Thomas certainly helps sway the Court very favorably to the right. Secondly, I would hate to see President Bush nominate a true liar. But, what does that have to do with it? The whole purpose of the confirmation hearings was to see if Thomas was qualified and unbiased enough to hold a seat in the highest court in the country. But, what I think it all came down to in the general public's eyes, and even to some senators, was the sexual harassment case presented by Anita Hill. It was a battle of who told the best story. If Hill was the one believed, then Thomas wouldn't be confirmed; and vice-versa. Naturally, Thomas had to win the "case" as there was no evidence; it was simply Hill's witnesses against Thomas'. Yes, the Burden of Proof. There were actually senators who had decided previously to vote for Thomas, but switched as the case came up. One cannot prove the case, and it should be assumed Thomas was innocent. And besides, the purpose of the hearing was to test the qualifications of Thomas, not to test his story-telling abilities. Right?
Now, the Thomas cons. Was Thomas qualified enough? There are clearly other Republican judges who have more experience than Thomas. So why did President Bush nominate Thomas to replace Judge Marshall, the only black judge on the Court? Obviously, to balance the Court on issues concerning civil rights for minorities. I think that is a pretty lame reason to nominate someone. This might be reverse discrimination, but does it really balance civil rights in the Court? Thomas is against Affirmative Action, the plan for minorities to help them strive (the same plan that helped Thomas get a degree from Yale). And might he even turn on Bush? It has happened before, as in the Nixon years a conservative judge turned liberal after he was confirmed.
Also, many liberals and civil rights activists have denounced Bush for nominating Thomas; should Bush have taken the chance of losing votes so close to '92? And finally, an even scarier thought: who will eventually replace Judge Sandra O'Connor, the only woman on the Court? An unqualified woman to balance issues on women's rights? n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.