Readers Assess the Thomas Confirmation Hearings

It is not easy to find positive factors in the unfortunate contretemps that the Senate Judiciary Committee finally made of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. There is one "plus," however, that is well worth noting: Witness after witness, including Prof. Anita Hill herself, presented black Americans who were dignified, sincere, well-educated, literate, and well-spoken people. They were lawyers, professors, judges, and teachers - people of real importance.All too many Americans still harbor stereotypes of black Americans. This display of real talent and accomplishment should go far to dispel these long-outmoded misperceptions. Albert F. Gallistel, Wayzata, Minn.

When a university sets out to find a new president, it puts together a search committee, and the faculty, the alumni, and the students work together to find the best person for the job. When a Supreme Court justice is nominated, one man selects a politically acceptable candidate, who is carefully coached on how to prevent anyone from finding out what position he or she holds on important issues. The tragedy of the Thomas hearings is that it was a mockery of the US Constitution. It is clearly time to return to the words of the Founding Fathers and establish a system of "advice and consent" in the process of selecting a Supreme Court justice. The Senate and the president should together search for an outstanding jurist who will protect the rights and interests of all of the people. William N. Ellis, Rangeley, Maine

Seeing the condescending and overbearing attitude of our US senators - droning on, repeating questions, making political speeches long into the night, and bickering among themselves - makes voters believe that the time has come to put these senior senators "out to pasture." One result of the hearing process is that we see clearly the need for term limits. Richard H. Riggs, Lima, Ohio

Recommended: 6 novels about grand passions

Prof. Anita Hill was accused of suffering from delusional disorders and schizophrenia. Clearly, even today, if a woman brings up an uncomfortable issue such as sexual harassment, she is likely to be labeled "crazy" by both the accused and the public, even though there is no evidence. Why wasn't there more of a public outcry when Professor Hill was accused of insanity? Did anyone inquire if Clarence Thomas suffered from delusions, fantasies, or other so-called mental illnesses? Both men and women should be deeply offended by this line of thinking and by the White House's use of this smear tactic. President Bush's opinion seems to be that women who somehow misbehave should be discredited and then carted off to the asylum where their babblings will not be heard. I can only hope that we crazy, dangerous women will join together to defeat the politicians who have smeared us. Tara Waters, South Dartmouth, Mass.

The sexual harassment charge in the Thomas confirmation hearings has had the effect of a wind blowing through the country. Nothing and no one involved will be the same again, which is all to the good. Not only was the issue of sexual harassment brought to light, but so too has the need for greater justice and equality - women versus men, employee versus employer. Entrenched interests always resist change, but cannot stand forever. T. White, Arlington, Va.

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