I covered the confirmation hearings in 1991. HBO’s movie heavily edits history to favor Anita Hill. The current battle over President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland is child’s play compared with the lurid brawl over George H.W. Bush’s nomination of Clarence Thomas 25 years ago. On Saturday, HBO marked the quarter-century anniversary with “Confirmation,” a retelling of how Judge Thomas, a conservative, up-from-poverty black jurist from Pinpoint, Ga., saw his nomination nearly derailed by allegations of sexual harassment made by Anita Hill, a black attorney who had worked for him 10 years earlier. Ms. Hill’s calm, graphic testimony during the three-day hearing on her charges […]
Amid the liberal-conservative ideological clash that paralyzes our government, it’s always refreshing to encounter the views of Philip K. Howard, whose ideology is common sense spiked with a sense of urgency. In “The Rule of Nobody,” Mr. Howard shows how federal, state and local laws and regulations have programmed officials of both parties to follow rules so detailed, rigid and, often, obsolete as to leave little room for human judgment. He argues passionately that we will never solve our social problems until we abandon what he calls a misguided legal philosophy of seeking to put government on regulatory… Continue reading […]
The case for racial preferences in higher education has long been made using sophistry designed to hide the heavy social and moral costs of affirmative action. In “For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law,” Randall Kennedy makes that case with rare intellectual honesty and fair-mindedness. And while it won’t persuade opponents of the policy, the book has the salutary effect of clarifying the terms of the debate. The author, a professor at Harvard Law School, begins building his case for racially… Continue reading the column here.
In recent years, two prominent American universities have experienced catastrophic leadership failures that exposed young people in their charge to horrible abuse. The failures grew out of a lack of courage to resist the demands of powerful special interests. As Penn State tries to reform its campus culture, what can it teach Duke?
You probably know about Penn State, where top administrators, according to a recent report by former FBI head Louis Freeh, concealed critical facts about years of child molestation committed by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, all in an effort to protect the image of its football program. After the scandal became public, trustees fired the university’s president and its longtime football coach; two senior administrators left their jobs. The trustees then commissioned a multimillion-dollar investigation headed by Mr. Freeh, and they have promised to implement most of his 119 recommended reforms.
You may not have known, or remember, the leadership scandal at Duke, which became manifest in 2006 but led to no punishment or even censure of any kind for any of the professors and administrators who behaved disgracefully, including President Richard Brodhead.
We refer to the rapidly disproven allegation of a savage gang rape hurled at three Duke lacrosse players, with dozens more accused of complicity, by an African-American stripper whom they had hired to perform at a team party. Scores of professors formed themselves into what can most kindly be called a rush-to-judgment mob, adding their denunciations of the falsely accused lacrosse players (three were indicted) to the damage already done by a rogue district attorney, Mike Nifong.