From nomination to confirmation: a chronology

October 16, 1991|By SUN GRAPHICS

JUNE 27 - Thurgood Marshall, the only black ever to serve on the Supreme Court, announces his retirement.

JULY 1 - President Bush nominates Clarence Thomas, 43, a black conservative federal appeals court judge, to replace Justice Marshall. The nominee is soon opposed by many civil rights and women's groups.

SEPT. 3 - Anita F. Hill, a University of Oklahoma law professor and former assistant to Judge Thomas at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is contacted by an aide to Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, who opposes the nominee, to ask if she has any information about him.

SEPT. 10-20 - The Senate Judiciary Committee holds eight days of public hearings on Thomas. He testifies for five days followed by three days of outside witnesses.

SEPT. 12 - Ms. Hill first contacts committee staff to discuss making allegations about sexual misconduct by Thomas. Discussions continue Sept. 19-21.

SEPT. 23 - Ms. Hill faxes statement with allegations to the committee.

SEPT. 24 - Ms. Hill is interviewed by the FBI.

SEPT. 25 - Judge Thomas is informed about the charges and interviewed by the FBI. He denies all the allegations.

SEPT. 26-27 - Committee members are briefed about the allegations. Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., and other members dismiss them and decide not to make them public.

SEPT. 27 - The committee splits 7-7 on whether to confirm Thomas, with Mr. Biden and six other Democrats voting against him and six Republicans and one Democrat voting for him. No mention is made of Hill's charges at the public meeting.

OCT. 1 - Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, who has been told by Mr. Biden about Ms. Hill's allegations, gets unanimous agreement to begin debate on Judge Thomas Oct. 3 and to vote on the nomination at 6 p.m. Oct. 8.

OCT. 3-4 - Senate debate begins on Thomas with both supporters and opponents agreeing he will be confirmed.

OCT. 6 - Newsday reports Ms. Hill's allegations and National Public Radio carries an interview with her about them.

OCT. 7 - Ms. Hill gives a televised news conference in Oklahoma about her charges; more senators and women's groups call for a delay in the vote, but Mr. Mitchell says it will be held and Mr. Biden defends his handling of the allegations. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court opens its term with one vacancy.

OCT. 8 - Pressure mounts throughout the day for a delay as several Democrats say they will withhold their votes unless the charges are investigated. Judge Thomas releases an affidavit denying all the charges. At 6 p.m., the vote is put on hold and at 8:15 p.m. Mr. Mitchell gets agreement to postpone the vote for one week so the committee can investigate Ms. Hill's charges.

OCT. 10 - Angela D. Wright, who also worked at EEOC, says Thomas asked her out on dates and made annoying comments to her. Wright, metropolitan editor at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, offers to testify as committee members argue about hearing procedures.

OCT. 11 - The hearings open, carried live on all four networks. Judge Thomas appears first, denies the charges and says his reputation has been ruined by unfair proceedings; Ms. Hill then gives graphic testimony about sexual comments she says Judge Thomas made to her about pornographic films and his own sexual prowess. The nominee returns in the evening to call the hearings "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks."

OCT. 12 - Judge Thomas testifies for over six hours, again denies all the charges and says his life has been "hell" since Sept. 25. Asked if he would withdraw his nomination before the vote, he says, "I would rather die than withdraw."

OCT. 13 - The committee hears several witnesses for Judge Thomas and Ms. Hill. Four people who know Ms. Hill say she told them several years ago about Thomas's alleged actions as her lawyer releases a lie detector test she took and passed.

OCT. 14 - The committee finishes its hearing at 2 a.m. without reaching a conclusion about whether Ms. Hill's charges are true. Mr. Biden says Judge Thomas should get the benefit of the doubt. Ms. Hill, upon returning to Oklahoma, dismisses accusations by Thomas supporters that she was fantasizing the alleged incidents and urges others to speak out against sexual harassment despite the difficulties.

OCT. 15 - The Senate votes ??-?? to confirm Judge Thomas' nomination.

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