Former Vice President Joe Biden now says he owes Anita Hill “an apology” for not doing more to silence her critics during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill,” he told Teen Vogue in an interview published Wednesday. “I owe her an apology.”
Biden was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, when Hill testified against Thomas, whom she alleged sexually harassed her when he was her supervisor at the Department of Education, as CNN reported. Thomas denied the allegations.
Looking back, especially during this moment of reckoning regarding sexual misconduct, Biden lamented he should have done more to stop his Republican colleagues from criticizing Hill.
“My one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends,” he said. “I mean, they really went after her. As much as I tried to intervene, I did not have the power to gavel them out of order.”
The committee received criticism for being led entirely by white men, so Biden campaigned for two female senators “on the condition that if they won they would come on the Judiciary Committee, so there would never be again all men making a judgement (sic) on this.”
Of course, it’s much easier to say all this in hindsight — especially in the throes of the “Me Too” movement. After all, in 1991, the then-senator didn’t subpoena three women whom he had sign affidavits saying they would not testify.@HattleyMarsha/Twitter
“The reason I didn’t, I was worried they would come and not corroborate what she said and make — I mean, Clarence Thomas only won by two votes,” Biden said. “And we still thought we had a chance at beating him.”
Biden shared these revelations as men stretching from Hollywood to Washington, D.C., are facing accusations of sexual harassment and assault. But it seems too little too late for Hill.
“He said, ‘I am sorry if she felt she didn’t get a fair hearing,’” Hill told The Washington Post in a lengthy, November interview. “That’s sort of an ‘I’m sorry if you were offended.’ … But I still don’t think it takes ownership of his role in what happened.”