The Senate's 52-48 confirmation of Judge Clarence Thomas yesterday as an associate justice of the Supreme Court was more directly related to politics, partisanship and electioneering than any in history. It culminated an ugly, inappropriate spectacle. We are glad it is over.
Judicial nominations are usually political, and to a significant degree. But no justice in this century has been sent to the Supreme Court on the basis of so close and partisan a division. Republicans voted 41-2 for. Democrats voted 46-11 against. Only the acrimonious and partisan 1987 rejection of Judge Robert Bork was so lopsided. Republicans then voted 40-6 for, Democrats 52-2 against.
Some senators voted their principles yesterday. Of that we have no doubt. But some "rose above principle," as they say, to support their party leadership. Some senators voted their constituencies rather than general public opinion. All the polls taken during and after the weekend hearings on Judge Thomas showed he enjoyed plurality support among men, among women, among blacks, among whites. But there were enough undecideds in every category to suggest that there is neither majority support nor opposition to the nominee.