CLARENCE THOMAS: ENTER ANITA HILL
On October 5, just three days before the Senate's scheduled vote on the Thomas nomination, Timothy Phelps of Long Island's Newsday broke a story involving charges of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. The gist of the story was that Thomas, while heading the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), had talked to Anita Hill -- then a member of his staff and later a law school professor -- about various sexual matters and had repeatedly invited her to go out with him.1 Within hours, Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio broadcast a similar version of Hill's charges, followed by an interview with Professor Hill. These charges would soon provoke an explosive national debate over Judge Thomas's confirmation.
The White House, in conjunction with Republican leaders in the Senate, promptly began to circulate reports that Hill's story had been fabricated with the help of special interest groups opposed to Judge Thomas. It was also said that a Democratic senator or staff member had leaked the story at the eleventh hour -- after the committee had considered the harassment allegations -- in order to subvert the process and defeat the Thomas nomination. From the other side, women's groups accused the Judiciary Committee of not responding quickly or strongly enough to Anita Hill's charges. In order to determine which of these claims might be well founded, it is necessary to examine the genesis of those charges.
Early in the confirmation process, the Alliance for Justice received a tip, emanating from a Washington dinner party, that "a teacher at the