Specter, Hatch on NOW's his list

October 16, 1991|By Joan Jacobson and Patrick Ercolano | Joan Jacobson and Patrick Ercolano,Evening Sun Staff

The day after the U.S. Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas' nomination to the Supreme Court, the National Organization for Women's Maryland Chapter is already planning ahead.

"I would like to see Orrin Hatch replaced. I've already written some checks for NOW in Utah," said Karen L. Bonnin, NOW's Maryland president.

Bonnin said she and other women she spoke with were outraged at the manner in which Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and other senators treated Anita Hill during her testimony last weekend on sexual harassment charges against Thomas. They are so outraged that they plan to work to unseat those senators.

"We are very politically active and we also have a PAC [Political Action Committee], and for those senators who were so insensitive to women's rights, we are going to replace them. Hatch and Specter are at the top of the list," said Bonnin, a Rockville lawyer.

Bonnin also said the hearings "struck a wellspring in women."

"So many women have been victimized by sexual advances in the workplace that they felt powerless [and] they want redress at this point. I think they need to go forward into the court system and demand redress," she said.

Referring to Thomas' comments to the Senate Judiciary Committee that its hearing was a "lynching," Bonnin said, "if that Senate process was a lynching of the black male, it was a rape of the black female."

Officials at Planned Parenthood of Maryland, also angry over Thomas' confirmation, already assume that Thomas holds the deciding vote to end a woman's right to an abortion.

Barbara Kaplan, Planned Parenthood's director of marketing, said, "This leaves the pro-choice movement doing everything it can in the individual states to make sure each state will guarantee to its citizens the same access to safe and legal abortion as we have known under Roe vs. Wade."

She referred to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that overturned most state anti-abortion laws.

Kaplan said she was skeptical of Thomas' Senate testimony last month that he had never seriously discussed Roe vs. Wade.

"There is no adult in this day and age who has not thought about and talked to others about Roe vs. Wade," said Kaplan.

Representatives of Right to Life of Maryland, an anti-abortion group, declined to comment last night about Thomas' confirmation.

But the head of a group representing 2,100 Republican women was delighted with the outcome.

Janet H. Greenip, president of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, said she was "absolutely thrilled he got it because I thought he was an outstanding man and he did an excellent job in the hearings."

Greenip ridiculed Maryland's two U.S. senators, Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, for voting against Thomas, even though, shesaid, polls showed 60 percent of the people supported him and thought he should sit on the court.

Marcella Holland, an assistant state's attorney and the president of the Monumental City Bar Association, said she had expected Thomas to narrowly win confirmation and didn't expect last weekend's hearings to change the outcome.

"One-on-one allegations are difficult to prove," she said. "The hearings weren't going to change anything unless someone ZTC other than Anita Hill offered corroborative evidence."

Holland said she personally opposed Thomas' confirmation. So did the Monumental City Bar Association, which has about 350 members, most of them black. The group is affiliated with the National Bar Association, which also opposed the Thomas nomination.

As an attorney, Holland added, she felt "very frustrated" watching the weekend testimony because "it offered no conclusive verdict. It had the feeling of a criminal trial, even though it wasn't, as the committee members kept reminding us."

The Rev. Sidney Daniels, pastor of Emmanuel Christian Community Church and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance,said after last night's Senate vote, "I'm glad it's over. [The hearings were] a sordid display of words before the whole country. Both Ms. Hill and Judge Thomas were damaged by these proceedings."

Daniels also said that he hoped Thomas "learned something from all this, something about what it means to be a black man in America today. Last Saturday he started talking about being a black man. Well, did he just discover that? Before, any blacks who disagreed with his positions were, according to him, a bunch of crybabies."

The minister added, "Of course, I agree with him that hard work is the best way to get ahead, but to say, as he has, that blacks aren't victimized by racism and discrimination -- why, that's just wearing blinders. I hope this whole process has opened his eyes."

The ministers' alliance consists of about 200 local clergy, about three-fourths of them black. Daniels said the group took no official position on the Thomas nomination.

Susan Goering, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said she was "quite disappointed" by the confirmation.

"The ACLU had opposed Thomas' nomination on grounds independentof these sexual harassment charges. On the basis of those grounds alone, we're disappointed that he was confirmed," said Goering.

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