- Law professor Anita Hill told The New York Times that former Vice President Joe Biden’s apology for what she endured testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 was insufficient.
- “I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you. I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose,” Hill told the Times.
- Biden, who announced a presidential campaign on Thursday, has been criticised for decades over the personal attacks Hill experienced while testifying. Biden chaired the committee at the time.
- Biden was also criticised for declining to call multiple witnesses who had volunteered to testify in support of Hill’s account of Thomas’ alleged harassment as part of a deal with the Republicans.
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Law professor Anita Hill is not satisfied with former Vice President Joe Biden’s attempt to make amends.
Hill told the New York Times that Biden, who announced his candidacy for president on Thursday, reached out to apologise for her experience in 1991, while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Times reported that Biden – who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time – called Hill apologise for the questioning she endured during thehearing. She was testifying about the alleged sexual harassment she experienced at the hands of Clarence Thomas, who became Justice Thomas, after being confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told The Times that Biden “shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.”
But she said his efforts fell short of a true apology, and she “left the conversation feeling deeply unsatisfied.”
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Hill told the Times. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
She added that Biden “needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw.”
Seven women have recently recounted instances where they felt Biden had made unwanted physical contact or invaded their personal space.
His campaign will have to contend with accusations that he not only made women feel uncomfortable but failed to stand up for Hill when it mattered the most.
Biden has been criticised for declining to call multiple witnesses who had volunteered to testify in support of Hill’s account of Thomas’ alleged harassment as part of a deal with Republican leadership – after Biden himself called her to testify in the first place.
During a private interview with the FBI, Hill accused Thomas of sexually harassing her and creating a hostile work environment over a number of years while she worked for him in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division and at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in the early 1980s.
After the interview’s contents were leaked to the press, Biden re-opened Thomas’ confirmation hearings – and called for Hill to publicly testify, which she did in October 1991.
The Republicans on the committee pressed Hill on sexually explicit details of the alleged harassment and sought to undermine her credibility at every turn, accusing her of lying and even questioning whether she was suffering from delusions.
As the committee’s leader, Biden has since been heavily criticised for making a deal that blocked any witnesses to help Hill’s case from publicly testifying, and for not doing enough to protect Hill, a woman of colour, from attacks on her character from an all-male, all-white panel.
“I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill,” Biden told Teen Vogue in 2017. “I owe her an apology.” And at an event more recently, Biden still declined to take direct responsibility for what Hill experienced, saying, “I wish I could have done something.”
Biden officially enters the race with the most experience and longest political record, including working for women’s rights.
During his time in the Senate, Biden was the lead author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994, which introduced a host of new legal protections and federal resources to both prevent domestic violence and support victims. As Vice President, he spearheaded initiatives to address dating violence and sexual assault on college campuses, including the “It’s On Us” campaign.
But along with the Anita Hill hearing, he’ll also likely face a fresh round of scrutiny over his record on other issues involving race and gender.
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