Uncle Joe isn't pulling his punches. In his two years and change out of office, the former vice president has still been a formidable presence in the political world, weighing in on controversies and political upheaval, including his own. On March 26, he addressed one of the biggest controversies of his own political life and its influence on more recent ones — and Joe Biden's comments about Anita Hill and the Kavanaugh hearings really did not hold back.
Biden was the speaker at the Biden Courage Awards on Tuesday, March 26 in New York City. The awards were a collaboration between the Biden Foundation and It's On Us, the campaign to address sexual assault on college campuses. At the award ceremony, which honored student activists who had spoken out to stop sexual assault, Biden addressed the "culture" around acceptance of sexual assault and his own experience seeing that culture firsthand: namely, his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Anita Hill's testimony regarding alleged sexual harassment in 1991.
Hill, who was at the time a University of Oklahoma law professor, came forward during the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and alleged that Thomas had sexually harassed her when they worked together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Thomas denied the allegations, and representatives for the Supreme Court Justice did not return Elite Daily's request for additional comment. Thomas was eventually confirmed to the court.
"To this day, I regret I didn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she had showed," Biden said at the Tuesday event, adding that Hill had deserved a hearing where she was respected. During her hearing, Hill was asked questions on subjects like why she had not come forward earlier, or whether she was a "scorned woman," as one senator put it. "The fact that she stepped forward and testified was an act of courage in and of itself," he said.
Biden also acknowledged the unfairness inherent in requiring Hill — a black woman — to testify about her alleged harassment in front of an all-male, all-white committee. "We were a bunch of white guys," Biden said. "So when Anita Hill came and testified, she faced a committee that didn’t fully understand what the hell it was all about."
Biden also connected Hill's situation to that of Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2018 about allegedly being sexually assaulted as a teenager by Brett Kavanaugh, who had been nominated to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh denied her allegations, and his representatives did not return Elite Daily's request for additional comment. Ford, like Hill, faced heavy public scrutiny and even reported death threats for her testimony. "[The Senate Judiciary Committee] should not be one of the most difficult places for a woman to lay out a story of abuse and harassment," Biden said at the March 26 event. "And yet, last fall, you saw it all over again in the Kavanaugh hearings. In almost 30 years, the culture, the institutional culture, has not changed."
Biden has been criticized for his handling of the Hill hearings, including a number of reasons that he mentioned in his March 26 remarks. While the former vice president has publicly apologized for the hearings previously, he has not directly apologized to Hill, something she noted in a November 2018 panel on sexual harassment. “He said he apologized, but he hasn’t apologized to me,” she noted, per The Wrap. Elite Daily reached out to representatives of Biden regarding the lack of apology, but did not immediately hear back.
They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. In this case, that's pretty depressing.