The former editor of the New York Times wants Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas impeached.
In a recent piece in New York Magazine, Jill Abramson lays down the case against Thomas in a lengthy broadside focusing on a groping incident allegedly committed by the 69-year-old jurist in 1999.
According to attorney Moira Smith, while attending a dinner at her employer’s residence, she was repeatedly groped by Thomas–who was featured at that same dinner. Smith said:
At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas. I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding. He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.
Smith kept silent about the incident for 17 years. She went public with a Facebook post in late 2017 after video surfaced of then-candidate Donald Trump bragging about his ability to grab women’s genitals with impunity because of his fame.
Smith recounted her reasoning for going public, noting, “Donald Trump said when you’re a star, they let you do it; you can do anything. The idea that we as victims let them do it made me mad. Sure enough, Justice Thomas did it with I think an implicit pact of silence that I would be so flattered and starstruck and surprised that I wouldn’t say anything. I played the chump. I didn’t say anything.”
After making the allegations via Facebook, Smith was contacted by Marcia Coyle, a longtime and highly-respected Supreme Court reporter for the National Law Journal. Coyle’s story on Smith was published on October 27, 2016.
Coyle’s story contained details of the alleged backside-squeezing incident–corroborated by Smith’s roommates at the time and by her former husband. Thomas denied the accusations.
After James Comey filed his brief and infamous letter about the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email probe, Moira Smith’s story was buried under the feckless fury of the news cycle–but not before she was slammed–and possibly libeled–as a liar and “partisan Democrat” by Carrie Severino, a former law clerk for Thomas, in the pages of the National Review. After a series of similar attacks by conservative movement media, Smith took down her Facebook profile.
In light of Smith’s allegations–and the broader conversation moved forward by the #MeToo movement–Abramson is asking her readers to reassess the sexual harassment allegations made against Thomas by Anita Hill during the former’s Senate confirmation hearings.
Thomas famously described the hearings as a “high-tech lynching” while multiple corroborating witnesses for Hill were kept out of the public eye by then-committee chair Joe Biden who had promised his Republican colleagues to keep things quick–and therefore keep Thomas’s detractors silent.
But Abramson isn’t pleading for a simple revisitation of Hill’s allegations against Thomas. Abramson is asking for Hill to be believed–and by virtue of that, Abramson is simply stating that follows for Thomas to be impeached.
However, Thomas’ potential impeachment would not come because of the sexual harassment itself. Abramson notes:
[But] because of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risqué subject matter.
Lying is, for lawyers, a cardinal sin. State disciplinary committees regularly institute proceedings against lawyers for knowingly lying in court, with punishments that can include disbarment. Since 1989, three federal judges have been impeached and forced from office for charges that include lying. The idea of someone so flagrantly telling untruths to ascend to the highest legal position in the U.S. remains shocking, in addition to its being illegal.
[image via TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images]