The ghost of Anita Hill’s testimony hovers over Thomas’s appalling judgment in the strip search case that should put all doubt about his mental acuity to rest. He also left no doubt why compassion and diversity is important on the court, especially when it comes to cases dealing with women, particularly young women.
Alone among his colleagues on the Supreme Court, he declared Thursday in dissent in Safford v. Redding that an “abusive” and “humiliating” strip search of a middle school student for prescription Ibuprofen was actually a constitutional exercise by school officials who not only deserved immunity from liability but praise for their zealous dedication to student safety.
Less concerned about a forced and unnecessary intrusion into a young girl’s pants and bra than he was about judicial intrusion into school safety policies, Thomas declared that the odious search was legal because administrators could have found what they were looking for.
Sotomayor won’t make it even on the court, but she will bring some sanity, which is clearly lacking from Thomas.
The lone woman currently on the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, called the search “abusive” and “humiliating” and cited other relevant facts to argue why school officials should not have been afforded immunity from the lawsuit that Redding’s folks brought. “Any reasonable search for the pills would have ended when inspection of Redding’s backpack and jacket pockets yielded nothing,” Justice Ginsburg wrote, and, “to make matters worse, [the school official] did not release Redding, to return to class or to go home, after the search. Instead, he made her sit on a chair outside his office for over two hours. At no point did he attempt to call her parent. Abuse of authority of that order should not be shielded by official immunity.”
It is not shocking to me that Clarence Thomas didn’t find the groping of a young girl exceptional or that he didn’t think she had rights over the school. If you believed Anita Hill, the rest simply follows.
And it’s important to remember that the one person most responsible for Thomas being on the court is Joe Biden, and I say this as one of his advocates, though based solely on his foreign policy acumen. Because if you view Biden’s part in the hearings again the political reality stacked up against Hill is impossible to ignore.
Clarence Thomas in a way vindicated Anita Hill in his lone dissent in Safford v. Redding. He also proved why Obama’s criteria for compassion and life experience, especially from a woman’s perspective, is need on the Court.