Opinion: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas: Echoes of 1991 resurface in a 7:30 a.m. phone call

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What would you do if you heard your phone ringing at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning?

Would you think someone has died?

Would you think a telemarketer has sure picked a terrible time to pitch their horrible product?


Or would you think that it could possibly be the wife of a boss you parted ways from more than 20 years ago was calling to ask you to apologize for sworn testimony you famously delivered?

When Anita Hill’s office phone rang earlier this month, it went to voicemail and was so shocked at who had left the message that she didn’t know what to do for nearly a week. Then she notified the campus police, who sent it to the FBI. But the call was in fact Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, and she was calling to sell Hill on the idea of recanting her testimony during his 1991 confirmation hearing.

[Correction: a previous version of this post suggested that the call went to Hill’s home phone. Mrs. Thomas called Ms. Hill’s office phone.]

‘Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,’ said the voice. ‘I just want to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.’ Hill, who now teaches at Brandeis University, released a statement. ‘I certainly thought the call was inappropriate,’ Hill wrote, adding, ‘I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.’

During Thomas’ confirmation hearings, Hill testified that he acted inappropriately by making sexual comments and alluding to X-rated films.

Lillian McEwen, a former Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer, told the Washington Post that she believed Hill’s testimony. ‘The Clarence I know was certainly capable not only of doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then,’ McEwen told the paper.

-- Tony Pierce