Among the most interesting commentators on the United States Supreme Court is Linda Greenhouse. Her commentary on Justice Hugo Black begins,
It’s obvious why the parallel between the battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and that of Clarence Thomas 27 years earlier grabbed the public’s attention. In both cases, late-breaking allegations threatened but failed to derail the confirmation process, and both nominees defended themselves with impassioned denials of wrongdoing.
But history offers another, older parallel that in its way is even more compelling. The issue was not sex but racism. The bombshell burst not just before a confirmation vote, but just afterward, forcing a newly confirmed Supreme Court justice to take to the airwaves to defend himself against mounting calls for his resignation. I’m referring to the experience of Hugo L. Black, the first Supreme Court nominee of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation, this nearly forgotten episode is worth resurrecting after 81 years.