In Defense of Clarence Thomas, Skepticism of Alaska Lawyer's Grope Claim

Young scholar, now a lawyer, says the justice groped her at a dinner party in 1999.

, The National Law Journal

   | 10 Comments

Supporters of Justice Clarence Thomas began to rise to his defense with outrage and skepticism of a claim Thursday by an Alaskan lawyer that the justice groped her when she was a young scholar in 1999.

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What's being said

  • Native Texan

    Women: look at the comments of men below. They don‘t understand why women don‘t bring up these things immediately. Do you want to explain it to them?

  • Jerry

    Burn him at the stake ! If she said it 17 years after the fact it must be true ! Impeach ! Impeach ! Really, this cultural Marxism is getting so irritating.

  • Alaska Female

    The responses here demonstrate precisely why victims of sexual assault are reluctant to come forward. They are often reluctant to relive the experience in public, in part because they are very often accused of lying or being opportunistic. I know Moira Smith, who is widely admired as an ethical and objective attorney in the Alaska law community. I also know the circumstances under which she revealed her story: it was one of hundreds of Facebook stories of primarily unreported sexual assaults. The impetus for the sudden flood of reports was Trump‘s infamous "video on the bus" in which he described assaulting women -- i.e., without their consent; as a celebrity, he felt as though he didn‘t require anyone‘s consent. Then in the Presidential debate, he denied ever assaulting any woman and called his accusers liars. That denial resulted in a dozen or more women coming forward to describe being groped by Trump. Predictably, they‘ve been vilified and called opportunists. That led to a Facebook post asking women to come forward with their accounts of their own episodes of assault. Why? Because the topic of sexual assault is finally on the front page, the national stage. It was an attempt to support women who, just as the commenters here are doing to Ms. Smith, didn‘t report because they knew they would be called liars and opportunists. I saw Ms. Smith‘s post in response to this call for women to come forward. So she did come forward on social media, even if it‘s 17 years after the fact, because it might -- it just MIGHT - feel safe to do so because so many women were. Hers was one of dozens of accounts from other women. Someone saw it, saw the reference to Justice Thomas - a person she had deeply admired up to that point -- and brought it forward, into the public arena. And here we are, watching people engage in character assassination, calling her a liar and opportunist, blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator. It‘s time to change our reaction to sexual assault victims; to acknowledge that they may actually BE victims, and not motivated by personal greed or fame. To the contrary, Ms. Smith had nothing to gain and only her reputation to lose, something the commenters here are busily seeing to. It‘s time to acknowledge that character assassination without proof is no more acceptable in regards to the victim than it is in regard to the alleged perpetrator. Politics had nothing to do with it -- and everything to do with it, but only because the abhorrent views of one of the candidates has come to light.

  • Peach Ette

    In a he said she said situation you can certainly impute motives based on the political leanings of the witnesses and the timing if you want and everyone is entitled to their character witnesses. With that said, I‘m not sure some of the comments below should go unchallenged. One commenter suggests we should go back to a time (Make America Great Again!) when a woman can just slap a man who is getting too fresh. Another suggests she should have made a social media post about it at the time. Um, ok, let‘s assume that Justice Thomas managed to grab her without anyone else noticing. You suggest this Truman Foundation scholar slap a sitting SCOTUS justice at a dinner party? Or announce her discomfort via a social media post bound to go viral? Well, that would be awkward to say the least, and certainly career-ending. Immediately reporting unwanted sexual advances has severe risk and I for one wouldn‘t discount the story because she didn‘t shut down the dinner party (and her career) to make her discomfort known at the time.

  • Honest Iago

    The question is not whether Ms. Smith was groped at a dinner party prior to the end of the last millennium. The question is, why choose to go public about it a few days before the first Presidential election involving a female candidate? When properly phrased, the question answers itself. What is perhaps more unsettling is the followup question of who is exploiting whom.

  • A guy in Atlanta

    There has to be an end to this. At some point, the "Salem Witch Trial" nature of these allegations makes them ring hollow - or at least raises questions that we cannot effectively address so long after the fact. What happened to the idea that a woman had the right to slap a man immediately if he got too "fresh"? That would end the activity then and there. The allegations here are brought by an activist who wants to ensure that this does not happen to her 8 year old daughter. She should tell her daughter that she is not likely to be believed if she waits 17 years and then goes public with a charge against a public figure - or anyone. And she should tell her 8 year old daughter to react immediately to any invasions of her person. If that was a clear right, perhaps we would not have to dissect these claims 20 years after the fact -- or maybe at all.

  • James Atlanta

    Is it just me or do others doubt that this claim, as well as the claims concerning Donald Trump‘s alleged behavior decades ago (and by the way I‘m no fan of Mr. Trump who I find to be an undisciplined buffoon) just happen to coincide with the start of early voting. Why didn‘t these women coming forward decades ago in the case of Justice Thomas, or at the start of the campaign in the case of Mr. Trump. Is this just a coincidence, or do the astute political handlers who arrange these things believe we live in the United States of Amnesia and you need to make these allegations happen close in time to elections to have the maximum effect (a la Wm. J. Clinton)? I would not be surprised to see all of this incorporated into an episode of "House of Cards.

  • Thalia

    In defense of Clarence Thomas, they have decided with no evidence to claim it was all fake? How very lawyerly. Moira Smith has made exactly one political donation this year, to Lisa Murkowski, a Republican. And yet she is attacked as a Democratic partisan? How very unsurprising.

  • Henry Betke

    I think we all can see what‘s happening! If we (Collectively) buy into this type of defamation don‘t think for a moment it won‘t happen at the firm level ...

  • Scott

    What a stroke of bad luck for Thomas. Of all the people he could have groped, he had to choose the one who orbits in the middle of a bunch of professional propagandists! 1999! She should have posted it on Myspace, or was that even around then?

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