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Citing Distractions, Virginia Thomas Steps Down as Liberty Central CEO

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, flanked by his wife, Virginia, waits to reopen his testimony in 1991 before the Senate Judiciary Committee on allegations of sexual harassment. Then law professor Anita Hill filed sexual harassment charges against Clarence Thomas.(Jennifer Law/AFP/Getty Images)

photo of Katy O'Donnell
November 15, 2010

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who made headlines last month with a phone call to her husband's old antagonist, is stepping down from her post as the head of Liberty Central, a conservative group she founded in May. A spokeswoman cited the “distractions” Thomas posed to the organization as the reason for the move.  

The group is merging with an unnamed organization, and the recent flap over Virginia Thomas’s phone call to Anita Hill, the woman whose sexual harassment accusations against Clarence Thomas rocked his confirmation hearings in 1991, likely drew more attention to her husband than she would have wanted. 

“She’ll take a back seat so that Liberty Central can continue with its mission without any of the distractions,” the spokeswoman, Caitlin Carroll of CRC Public Relations, told the Washington Post. “After discussing it with the board, Mrs. Thomas determined that it was best for the organization.”


Thomas left a voicemail on Hill’s office phone October 9 asking her to “consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband,” according to ABC News, which first reported the call.

The media frenzy that followed left many in Washington wondering about the wisdom of Thomas dredging up the memory of her husband’s controversial confirmation 20 years after the country had moved on.

At the time, the hearings caused a bitter partisan rift: Clarence Thomas described them as a “high-tech lynching” of a conservative black man, while many liberals sided with Hill. Hill accused the Supreme Court nominee of making unwanted sexual comments to her at work.

Since the call was reported, at least one other woman has come forward to detail her own sexual experience with Clarence Thomas.  

An announcement detailing the merger and Thomas’s departure is expected by Tuesday morning.


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