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

By Christopher E. Smith | Go to book overview

of the male-dominated Senate served to breed insensitivity to outsiders, especially women. According to Woods, many women were offended that senators were prepared to take Thomas at his word without giving Hill similar consideration: "John Danforth is a Yale man who can stand up and say, according to the rules of this club, 'I've asked the gentleman if he committed the crime and he said no. He's a friend of mine. He's a gentleman. And we should take his word.' That's the way it always was in this club." 90 This dissatisfaction with the Senate's performance in examining Thomas's fitness for judicial office, especially in light of Hill's plausible allegations, motivated women to contribute money to and vote for female candidates as a means to gain greater female representation in the country's highly unrepresentative legislative bodies, most notably the U.S. Senate. The Senate contained only 2 female senators among its 100 members at the time of the confirmation hearing and neither of these women senators were on the Judiciary Committee. As Chapter 5 will discuss, the Thomas nomination constituted a critical judicial nomination because it mobilized a segment of the electorate to seek greater representativeness in government. Many female voters, especially professional and other working women, viewed the Thomas hearings as demonstrating beyond a doubt that the male-dominated Senate was incapable of acting with sensitivity to address issues of concern to women.


NOTES
1.
For example, Priscilla Painton, "Woman Power," Time, 28 October 1991, 24.
2.
David A. Kaplan, "Anatomy of a Debacle," Newsweek, 21 October 1991, 26.
3.
For example, Jill Smolowe, "He Said, She Said," Time, 21 October 1991, 36.
4.
Eloise Salholz, "Dividing Lines," Newsweek, 28 October 1991, 24.

-116-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Critical Judicial Nominations 1
  • Notes 14
  • 2 - Critical Judicial Nominations in American History 17
  • Notes 41
  • 3 - Justice Thomas and the Supreme Court 45
  • Notes 68
  • 4 - The Thomas Hearings as the Catalyst for Political Mobilization 73
  • Notes 116
  • 5 - Political Mobilization in the Aftermath of the Thomas Nomination Controversy 123
  • Notes 148
  • 6 - Conclusion 153
  • Notes 156
  • Select Bibliography 159
  • Index 163
  • About the Author 173
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