Although many younger people are discovering the remarkable Anita Hill and that hideous episode in American history for the first time, the story still feels fresh to me, and remains infuriating all these years later.
President Obama has chosen the universally respected Merrick Garland for the seat previously held by Antonin Scalia. There is no question the stakes are as high in this circumstance as they were when Clarence Thomas was nominated. Garland, by any measure, is well within the legal mainstream, respected by people across the ideological spectrum. Scalia, on the other hand, was known for what might politely be called extreme conservatism. Nevertheless, when Garland joins the Court it will alter the ideological balance in a way that last occurred when Thomas replaced Justice Marshall.
The nomination has become an election-year political donnybrook, with Republicans refusing even to hold a hearing, let alone a final vote. Americans aren’t buying what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley are selling, though. Over 500 editorials have been written across the country denouncing their tactics. National polls consistently show that their stubborn, unprincipled, unprecedented obstruction is deeply unpopular and will affect some Senate races.
Some might find it ironic that the person who helped bring Anita Hill into the Clarence Thomas fight is complaining that a nomination has gotten too political.