President George H. W. Bush nominated Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in July 1991. It turned out to be one of the most consequential things Bush did during his four years in office. To the Democrats, Thomas, a black conservative, was anathema, and they did everything they could to defeat his nomination. They trotted out Anita Hill, a former protege of Thomas, to give false testimony against him. Hill went on to fame and riches as a darling of the establishment. Even today, thirty years later, she gets paid five-figure sums by universities to give a mediocre one-hour speech.
But most Americans, and most senators, saw through her fraud, and Thomas was confirmed to the Court. Since then, he has gone on to become an intellectual leader and one of the most influential jurists of the modern era.
In 1991, Orrin Hatch was a member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the ranking member if I remember correctly. During the hearing on Thomas’s confirmation, Hatch and Thomas had this exchange which should stand as a guidepost to all conservatives who come under attack by the corrupt and dishonest left:
"I'd rather die than withdraw. If they're going to kill me, they're going to kill me."
One of the most important and iconic moments of Justice Thomas's confirmation. It was a signal to the world that you should never let bullies win.
— Retired Orrin G. Hatch (@RetiredOrrin) May 28, 2021
This video clip was tweeted by the now-retired Senator Hatch. He, like Thomas, is a great American. He also is, or was, a Power Line reader. I think I can now safely disclose that we had a number of cordial exchanges via email, and I enjoyed a memorable visit to Hatch’s Senate office during which he gave me a CD of patriotic songs that he wrote, which I still have. He is a musician along with his other talents.
Most of all, Orrin Hatch is an American patriot. We didn’t have to agree on every issue to know that we were on the same side. Not too many years ago, it would have seemed odd to question whether any member of the U.S. House or Senate was a patriotic American. But those days are gone. Now, many in Congress are essentially anti-American, and are dedicated to the destruction–or, as Barack Obama put it, the “fundamental transformation”–of our country.
Clarence Thomas is the author of one of the best autobiographies I have read. You can buy it here. I highly recommend it. And standing up for Clarence Thomas’s nomination was among Orrin Hatch’s finest hours.