Speaking at the Biden Courage Awards in New York City, former Vice President Joe Biden harshly criticized “white man’s culture” as he recalled what he described as the refusal of white senators to believe Anita Hill’s vicious character assassination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during the hearings to confirm Thomas to the Supreme Court. Predictably, he also used the hearings last fall for then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh as he made his attack.
28 years ago I chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing, the first of its kind, the Clarence Thomas hearing, the appointment of a lifetime appointed to the Supreme Court, and a brave lawyer, a really notable woman, Anita Hill, professor, showed the courage of a lifetime talking about her experience being harassed by Clarence Thomas. We knew a lot less about the extent of harassment back then, over 30 years ago. But she paid a terrible price. She was abused through the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked.
He moaned, “I wish I could have done something. I opposed Clarence Thomas nomination. I voted against him. But I also realized there was a real and perceived problem the committee faced.”
Biden then blamed the white senators on the Judiciary committee for their response to Hill, whose testimony has been thoroughly debunked here:
They were a bunch of white guys. No, I mean it sincerely, a bunch of white guys hearing, hearing this testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee. So when Anita Hill, when Anita Hill came to testify, she faced a committee that didn’t fully understand what the hell it was all about. To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get a kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us. The hearing she deserved was a hearing where she was respected, where the tone and the questioning was not hostile and insulting, where the fact that she stepped forward was recognized as an act of courage in and of itself. Because let’s face it, back in 1991 it took a lot of courage to take on a man who was so much a part of the establishment and the power structure.
Biden then cited the Kavanaugh hearings as another example of a woman supposedly being ignored when she claimed sexual harassment.
He later cited English common law going back to the 1300s as a reason for senators allegedly ignoring women’s complaints:
You all know what the phrase rule of thumb means? Where it’s derived from? In English common law, not codification or common law, back in the late 1300s, so many women were dying at the hands of her husbands because they were chattel, just like the cattle or the sheep, that the Court of Common Law decided they had to do something about the extent of the deaths. So, you know what they said? No man has a right to chastise his woman with a rod thicker than the circumference of his thumb. This is English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture. That’s got to change it’s got to change.
Biden should be the last one to speak of morality when it comes to judicial appointments; his history includes his nefarious attack on the leading conservative jurist of his day, Judge Robert Bork, when Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. As Bork wrote in his classic book “The Tempting of America”:
The Biden Report, issued on September 2, stated that “Judge Bork’s extensive record shows that he has opposed virtually every major civil rights advance on which he has taken a position. . . . . ” The Report also converted my remarks some sixteen years earlier about advocacy of law violation into opposition to civil rights … Here, as elsewhere, the Biden report so thoroughly misrepresented a plain record that it easily qualifies as world class in the category of scurrility.