RESURRECTION: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas by John C. Danforth

RESURRECTION: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A personal, insider's view of the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, from the justice's chief Senate sponsor. Missouri senator Danforth is an ordained Episcopal priest, and religious metaphors inform both this book's title and its tale of Thomas's eventual confirmation. Given that other authors have explored the context and politics of the Thomas hearings in greater depth, Danforth's account of day-to-day strategizing offers only a few interesting nuggets. Lawyers handling Thomas initially discounted Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment; Danforth backed up his longtime friend and former employee from the start, while Thomas told him -- somewhat dubiously -- that Hill was ""very ideological."" When the allegations hit the media, Thomas was besieged. His wife, Ginni, is quoted recounting his anxiety and humiliation, and Danforth describes Thomas sobbing. The author relates his disputes with Senate Judiciary Chair Joseph Biden on handling the hearings and reflects that a longer delay might have allowed Thomas to retain counsel and gain procedural safeguards. He also recalls advising Thomas, who absolutely denied Hill's allegations, to say he'd agree to a lie detector test when Senate staffers were similarly tested about news leaks. Danforth shifted from minister to ""street fighter"" in an attempt to suggest that Hill was fantasizing and destroy her credibility; his own staffers, in fact, argued against some of his efforts, and Danforth himself now regrets playing dirty. The author's contention that the hearing procedures were unfair is worthy, but his account is necessarily slanted. Danforth avoids engaging Thomas's ideas: ""I did not think his political philosophy should be relevant to his nomination,"" he declares -- which seems glib, given Thomas's show of hard-line conservatism as a justice. Strictly for the converted.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1994
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Viking