Joe Biden just announced he is running for president. For many, the former vice president is just the challenge that Trump needs. However, the elder statesman of the Democratic Party has a long history on Capitol Hill that will certainly be dissected during the campaign season. One of them is how he handled Anita Hill when she testified at Clarence Thomas‘ confirmation hearing.
Hill is an attorney and professor at Brandeis University whose 1991 sexual harassment case against her then-boss Clarence Thomas after he was nominated to the Supreme Court had a seismic effect on women’s civil rights. Many felt that Biden, the ranking chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, allowed Hill to be attacked by a flock of old white men and never calling other witnesses to testify.
Back in November of 2017, Hill was asked if Biden ever apologized to her.
“He said, ‘I am sorry if she felt she didn’t get a fair hearing.’ That’s sort of an ‘I’m sorry if you were offended,'” she told The Washington Post.
Hill continued: “But I still don’t think it [Biden’s apology] takes ownership of his role in what happened. And he also doesn’t understand that it wasn’t just that I felt it was not fair. It was that women were looking to the Senate Judiciary Committee and his leadership to really open the way to have these kinds of hearings. They should have been using best practices to show leadership on this issue on behalf of women’s equality. And they did just the opposite.”
She also added, “But you cannot just bring people forward into a process where you know they’re not going to be treated fairly. That’s not being heard. That’s something that we are struggling with right now. Women are coming in to make a complaint, and the process is unfair and employers are saying, ‘Well, we have a process.’ Well, that’s not enough.”
Earlier this month, Biden addressed the Anita Hill controversy at an event in New York.
“We knew a lot less about the extent of harassment back then, over 30 years ago. She paid a terrible price, she was abused for the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked,” he said. “I wish I could have done something. To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us.”
The road to winning the Democratic primary is Black voters. If “super predators” hurt Hillary Clinton‘s 2016, the 1994 crime bill, which Biden co-wrote, coupled with the Antia Hill hearing hanging over his head, may not be as pleasing to Black voters as one might assume.