"If we make a mistake today, the Supreme Court will be living with it and the nation will be living with it for the next 30 to 40 years. That is too high a price to pay. . . . To give the benefit of the doubt to Judge Thomas is to say that Judge Thomas is more important than the Supreme Court."
-- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
"I intend to vote for confirmation but without enthusiasm. It's decision-making time, and we can't punt."
-- Sen. Jim Exon, D-Neb.
"I was extremely disappointed and astonished as a matter of fact when [Judge Thomas] came back and said he hadn't listened, hadn't listened to Anita Hill. She was testifying under oath. He professed to want nothing more than to clear his name. Yet he could not be bothered to hear what the allegations were from the person who was making the allegations."
-- Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
"The last week has been a kind of national tragedy. But if the result is that the country becomes more sensitive to sexual harassment, then the dark clouds will have had a valuable silver lining. . . .
"Today's vote is not a referendum on sexual harassment. If it were, I would hope and expect that the vote here in the Senate would be unanimous against it. Today's vote is also not a referendum on the nomination process. If it were, I think the vote would be unanimous that the process has swung out of control and that it reflects poorly on the Senate. What today's vote is about is whether Judge Clarence Thomas deserves appointment to the United States Supreme Court."
-- Sen. Alan J. Dixon, D-Ill.
"Mr. President, I know of no system of government where when you add the kerosene of sex, the heated flame of race and the incendiary nature of television lights, you're not going to have an explosion. I know of no institution that has been created by mankind that can contain that conflagration."
-- Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del.
"The Thomas supporters built a case against [Professor Anita Hill] on a house of cards made of falsehoods, innuendo and plain, old-fashioned political smears. . . . And the senators who have described themselves as the defenders of family values came up with every explanation for her testimony except the most obvious, that she was telling the truth. . . . If anyone needs to know why so many women keep the experience of sexual harassment or rape locked up inside, they need look no further than Anita Hill's 72 hours in Washington."
-- Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.
"The nation has gone through a very important teach-in on sexual harassment, but I'm afraid the Senate is about to flunk the course."
-- Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.
"Frankly, I was left with more questions after the hearings than before."
-- Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa
"Mr. President, I shall cast my vote for confirmation, and I will also pray that this trial by mud bath never be repeated."
-- Sen. Hank Brown, R-Colo.