Leigh Vogel—Getty Images
By Samantha Cooney
December 14, 2017

Joe Biden says he owes Anita Hill an apology over the treatment she faced in 1991 when she testified before Congress that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her.

The former vice president oversaw Thomas’ 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee. When Hill testified that Thomas had harassed her while she worked for him, she faced aggressive questioning and attacks on her credibility. Thomas, who was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court by a vote of 52 to 48, denied Hill’s allegations. Biden said in an interview with Teen Vogue published on Dec. 13 that he didn’t do enough to tone down the attacks against Hill.

“I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill. I owe her an apology,” Biden said. “My one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. 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. I tried to be like a judge and only allow a question that would be relevant to ask.”

Biden, who voted against Thomas’ confirmation, added that he later campaigned for two women to get seats on the Senate Judiciary Committee “so there would never be again all men making a judgment on this.”

Biden also previously said at a Nov. 13 event that he was sorry about the treatment of Hill, who has become a vocal advocate for victims of sexual harassment. In the years since the hearing, Biden has advocated for sexual assault and harassment victims and authored the Violence Against Women Act. But Hill and several other women have said that Biden hasn’t fully reckoned with his role in the Hill hearing.

“He also doesn’t understand that it wasn’t just that I felt it was not fair,” Hill told the Washington Post on Nov. 16. “It was that women were looking to the Senate Judiciary Committee and his leadership to really open the way to have these kinds of hearings. They should have been using best practices to show leadership on this issue on behalf of women’s equality. And they did just the opposite.”


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