On Oct. 15, 1991, the Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm Clarence Thomas as justice on the Supreme Court. His nomination was marred by accusations of sexual harassment by a former employee, Anita Hill. Hill’s testimony brought the issue of workplace harassment to the fore of the national conversation.
Thomas has been one of the most consistently conservative justices on the Supreme Court, and has developed a reputation for being quiet during oral arguments, while writing thoughtful opinions, particularly on issues involving federalism.
As the country has become more divided, qualifications for judicial appointments have become less important that other issues, in particular one’s likelihood to vote one way or another on key issues. As a result, the reputation of the Court as being impartial has been tarnished.
- If Thomas were to be nominated today, how would his journey be different? How is it the same?
- Why do you think the framers set very few qualifications for Supreme Court justices?
- Do you think that the Supreme Court should be insulated from party politics? How would you go about achieving this?
3, Oct. 2018, Clarence Thomas being sworn in [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <media.npr.org>.