- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2016

Former law clerks to Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas are coming to the jurist’s defense in the wake of a new allegation that he groped a woman nearly two decades ago.

Moira Smith told the National Law Journal on Thursday that Justice Thomas repeatedly grabbed her at a 1999 dinner party at the Virginia home of Louis Blair, former head of the Truman Foundation, when she was a 23-year-old Truman Scholar. She first wrote about the incident earlier this month in an Oct. 7 Facebook post.

“He groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should sit ‘right next to him,’” said Ms. Smith, 41. “He was 5 or 6 inches down and he got a good handful and he kept squeezing me and pulling me close to him.”

Justice Thomas denied the allegation through the Supreme Court’s press office.

“The claim is preposterous and it never happened,” he said.

The justice’s former law clerks quickly came to his defense. John C. Eastman, who clerked under Justice Thomas from 1996 to 1997, said the allegation is “both preposterous and racist.”

“I’m not even going to respond and dignify such a thing,” he said. “It’s outrageous.”

Mr. Eastman, who is the founding director of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, said the timing of the allegation is “designed to coincide” with the 25-year anniversary of the justice’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“I think it’s the politics of it,” he said. “A credible conservative African-American threatens the political dynamic of this country.”

And Carrie Severino, who clerked under Justice Thomas from 2007 to 2008, said she gives the allegation “no credit whatsoever.” She recalled Justice Thomas’s offer to allow her to delay her clerkship for a year because she was pregnant when she interviewed for the position.

“I know of no other Justice who has shown that level of care and flexibility to support their women clerks,” Ms. Severino said in a statement to National Review. “His integrity and high ethical standards are clear in every area of his work — from his unflinching commitment to carrying out his oath of office, to his loyalty to his friends and colleagues, to his generosity in giving his time to advise and mentor young people, and especially those whose struggles to overcome poverty mirrored his own.”

Mark Paoletta, former assistant White House counsel to George H.W. Bush, who worked on Justice Thomas’s confirmation, called into question the credibility of the accuser.

He pointed out that Ms. Smith is a longtime Democratic partisan who is active in Alaska politics. Her husband, Jake Metcalfe, was forced to resign as chairman of the Alaska Democratic Party in 2008 when his congressional campaign was accused of creating fake websites to smear his primary opponents.

Justice Thomas has hired more than thirty women law clerks over the years, has worked closely with them day in and day out, and none of them has ever accused him of any inappropriate conduct,” Mr. Paoletta said in a statement. “In fact, they hold him in the highest regard.”

But Ms. Smith, who now serves as a vice president and general counsel of Enstar, an energy company based in Anchorage, said friends remembered her telling them of the incident after it occurred.

The allegation comes 25 years after Anita Hill accused Justice Thomas of verbally sexually harassing her, which caused his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court to be reopened.

Justice Thomas denied those claims at the time, calling the proceeding a “high-tech lynching.” He was ultimately confirmed by a 52-48 vote. There had been no similar accusations against him.

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