Critical Judicial Nominations and Political Change: The Impact of Clarence Thomas

By Christopher E. Smith | Go to book overview
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6
Conclusion

When George Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court, most observers expected that combative confirmation hearings would pit liberal senators against their conservative colleagues in, respectively, challenging and defending Judge Thomas's qualifications and judicial philosophy. Most observers also expected Thomas to be confirmed with modest opposition as long as he did not make any mistakes during the confirmation hearings. Thomas's relatively weak performance before the Committee softened his potential support as the Committee deadlocked 7-7 when voting on whether to endorse his nomination. Despite opposition from most Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee, Thomas was poised to win his confirmation vote with the support of several Democratic senators and thereby assume his position as the Court's newest appointee. Up to that point, the Thomas nomination was simply another nomination that divided liberals and conservatives who were concerned about the immediate future of Supreme Court decision making. However, when Professor Anita Hill's charges of sexual harassment against Thomas emerged and the Judiciary Committee failed to either thoroughly investigate the charges or give her a fair, respectful hearing, the Thomas nomination was transformed into a catalytic political event that generated import

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