A woman who has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment has written an article recounting her allegations in which she expresses "hope" that he is removed from the bench.
Angela Wright-Shannon, who worked under Thomas when he was Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the 1980s, says Thomas repeatedly harassed her at the time. She was an "uncalled witness" during Thomas' contentious Senate confirmation hearing when he was nominated for the Supreme Court in 1991, in which attorney.
"I believed Hill because I had experienced similar behavior from [Thomas]: He had repeatedly pressured me to date him and inquired about my breast size," Wright-Shannon wrote in a Monday article for The Huffington Post.
Wright-Shannon says she was not allowed to testify during the hearing. "Four African-American women, including me, were willing to join professor Hill and testify about Thomas' behavior," she writes. "We all were denied a voice. Professor Hill and I were maligned by Thomas supporters, on the Senate panel and in his personal circle, in an attempt to coerce us into silence. But I wasn't afraid to speak then, and I'm not afraid to speak now."
Thomas' confirmation hearing, which he famously described as a "high-tech lynching," was a major event that pitted his Republican supporters against Hill and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Joe Biden and the late Ted Kennedy. Thomas, who was selected by President George H.W. Bush to replace the legendary liberal jurist Thurgood Marshall on the court, denied all the accusations against him. And he was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court, where he still serves today.
The allegations against Thomas have returned to the headlines in recent days due to an article calling for his impeachment by former New York Times editor Jill Abramson. Abramson, who co-authored a book about the Thomas hearings, argued in a New York Magazine article published over the weekend that Thomas committed perjury when he denied the accusations. She also identified Wright-Smith as one of several women who said Thomas had harassed them but whose claims were largely ignored by the committee.
Thomas is perhaps the most reliably conservative justice on the court, and has been vociferously defended in recent days by National Review writer Carrie Severino. "Although committee Republicans wanted [Wright-Smith] to be allowed to testify to illustrate the weakness of the case against Thomas, Democrats entered her testimony into the record only so there would be no opportunity to rebut it," Severino wrote on Monday. Severino also repeated the charge that Wright-Smith was fired by Thomas from the EEOC for using an anti-gay slur, a charge she denies.
It is rare for judges to be impeached by Congress, although it does happen on occasion. However, it's a different story when it comes to the high court. Only one Supreme Court justice – Samuel Chase in 1804 – has ever been impeached, although the Senate chose not to remove him from the court. More than 150 years later, Justice Abe Fortas resigned under threat of impeachment due to an ethics scandal.
But Wright-Smith says that she hopeswill trigger a reassessment of the allegations against Thomas, who was accused by Hill and other women of gross behavior during the 1991 hearings.
"It's highly unlikely that Thomas will be impeached, but we can hope. The Me Too movement has underscored the depth and breadth of sexual harassment in our society. Finally, women are being heard and believed. Not only are women no longer willing to be silent, but men are being put on notice that their time is up."