Feminists Chilly toward Decision
Duin, Julia, Price, Joyce, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Feminist groups that embraced Anita Hill reacted with a coolness bordering on hostility yesterday to the Supreme Court's refusal to stall Paula Corbin Jones' sexual-misconduct lawsuit against President Clinton.
Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, issued an ambivalent statement about Mrs. Jones' motives and stressed that a charge made is not a charge proven.
"NOW will not be rushed to judgment, not by right-wing attempts to undermine us, not by [Mrs. Jones'] lawyers or the media trying to create a NOW-vs.-Jones scenario," Mrs. Ireland said. "Paula Jones may not have been treated fairly by the media at first, but she will have her day in court - and so will President Clinton."
Ms. magazine, which refused to comment on Mrs. Jones until the Supreme Court had ruled, was not returning phone calls yesterday, and the Feminist Majority Foundation did not release a statement at all because its chairman, Eleanor Smeal, was on the road.
Mary Ruthsdotter of the California-based National Women's History Project said her group had barely discussed the Paula Jones case.
Asked for her personal opinion, Mrs. Ruthsdotter replied, "I always favor following the law. I suppose if it becomes the norm to harass sitting presidents [with lawsuits], Congress could take some action."
Of Mrs. Jones' charges, she said: "I'm a bit skeptical when cases arise with such circumstances."
The Independent Women's Forum, a conservative women's group in Washington, said it is time feminists rallied behind Mrs. Jones.
"We hope the National Organization for Women and other women's groups will join us in demanding that the president and his lawyers stop playing politics and promptly answer these sexual-harassment charges," IWF General Counsel Anita Blair said.
Feminists rallied around around Miss Hill in 1991 when she accused Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court, of sexually harassing her 10 years earlier. …