Supreme Court Justice Anita Hill?

The law professor is a Vanity Fair author's top pick.


Tracy Clark-Flory
May 2, 2009 12:15AM (UTC)

After news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter will have to be replaced, plenty of names are being bandied about, and some of them just happen to belong to highly qualified women. (I guess some people aren't pacified by the bench's current female tokenism.) But Vanity Fair's Nell Scovell has an offbeat suggestion for the right woman for the job: Anita Hill. Yes, that Anita Hill.

Scovell writes of the Brandeis University law professor:"She’s reasonably young, smart, and -- after her ordeal testifying at Clarence Thomas’s 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing -- she certainly understands politics as well as law." But, really, the recommendation is based on the "potential for healing" (aka political payback): "I want the still ranking member of the Judiciary Committee Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) to finally treat Hill with the respect she deserves. I want Hill confirmed with more votes than Thomas. And, mostly, I want Hill to counter Thomas’s continued assaults on personal freedoms and equality."

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It's a nice revenge fantasy. I can just imagine a New Yorker cartoon showing a caricature of Thomas and Specter squirming in their seats; maybe there would be a reader contest to pen the thought bubbles above their heads. But that daydream is quickly burst. Appointing Hill based in no small part on her political symbolism isn't true payback, or a win for women. I suspect that Scovell has her tongue placed lightly in her cheek, embracing both the satisfaction and silliness of such a suggestion.

Also, setting aside fantasy sequences, Hill isn't interested in the gig. Shortly after Obama's win, Scovell sent Hill an e-mail suggesting the idea. Her response: "Last month I was speaking in Maine and was asked about being appointed to the Court. I responded, 'That would be awkward, don’t you think?' ... I’m very excited about Barack Obama’s presidency and its potential for healing, but I don’t think this is one that he can, or should try to, pull off."


Tracy Clark-Flory

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