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Anita Hill vs. Virginia Thomas: Is an apology due 19 years later?

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Virginia Thomas, tea party activist

Ms. Thomas’s very overt advocacy on behalf of conservative and tea party organizations and causes – including harsh criticism of President Obama and Democratic lawmakers – has prompted questions about whether this is unseemly for the spouse of a US Supreme Court justice. For someone in her unique position, where is the line between free speech and association and the need to avoid the appearance of politics in the federal judiciary?

Many political spouses (and they are usually wives) have causes, and they do engage in overt politicking. This week, Michelle Obama, whose approval ratings are higher than her husband’s, is stumping for Democratic candidates facing rough midterm elections.

Some spouses, like Hillary Clinton, get right into the political machinery (as she did on health care during her husband's administration) even though they have no elected status whatsoever.

But usually, their advocacy is on behalf of noncontroversial, apolitical issues: Lady Bird Johnson on highway beautification, Laura Bush on kids' reading skills, Ms. Obama on military families.

Ms. Thomas, on the other hand, has been the keynote speaker at large tea party events, most recently in Virginia. She’s the founder and head of “Liberty Central,” a nonprofit organization “designed to promote education, civil discourse, and activism focused on protecting core founding principles of the United States,” according to its mission statement.

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