“You Have No Idea How Important This Is”: Anita Hill’s Testimony and the Arizona Attorneys Behind the Scenes

Anita HillWhen Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court in the summer of 1991, it didn’t bode well for women. Marshall, the first African American appointed to the court, was best known for his expertise and influence on civil rights law, but he had also been a defender of reproductive rights during his tenure in the nation’s highest court. He was among the court majority that legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, and he again stood up for abortion rights in two later cases, Harris v. McRae and Webster v. Reproductive Health Services.


The impact of Anita Hill’s testimony went beyond the question of Clarence Thomas’ appointment.


Marshall’s decision to leave the Supreme Court was announced during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, who had campaigned on an anti-abortion platform in his 1988 presidential bid. Predictably, Bush used the opportunity to replace Marshall with a more conservative judge. At a press conference on July 1, 1991, President Bush named Clarence Thomas, who was then one of the few African-American judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals, as his nominee.

Thomas had only served 19 months as a federal judge and, at 43, was relatively young for an appointee. Of the justices currently serving, he was the youngest at the time of appointment. Nonetheless, he had a record of statements and judgments that was enough to satisfy the Republican base. Though he had spent eight years as chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), he had been critical of affirmative action and school desegregation initiatives, and he questioned the very idea that the government should take action to address racial inequality. A product of a Catholic upbringing and Catholic schooling, Thomas had called the right of married couples to use contraceptives an “invention.” Groups like the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) immediately spoke out against Thomas’ nomination, expressing concern that his presence on the court could put Roe v. Wade at risk. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Aaron Marquez for State Senator, LD 27

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

Aaron Marquez is running for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 27, a district that encompasses part of Central Phoenix as well as the communities of Guadalupe, South Mountain, and Laveen. Mr. Marquez has focused his campaign on the idea of building bridges — in the form of strengthening education and the economy — for a stronger Arizona.

Mr. Marquez faces primary opposition from current House Rep. Catherine Miranda, who has a voting record in the legislature that clearly shows she does not support women’s health issues or the ability for Arizonans to make their own health care decisions.

Mr. Marquez was kind enough to take the time for this telephone interview, transcribed below, on July 23, 2014.


“I just want to make sure that the Arizona my daughter grows up in is an Arizona that always respects women.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I was raised in Arizona. I had a single mom and an older sister who were both very influential in raising me. I went through K-12 public schools in Arizona.

I started at the University of Arizona, but something important happened that first semester of college, for me and for the country — 9/11 happened. I realized I wanted to find a way to serve the country. I tried to get into the Army at that point but ended up being medically disqualified due to childhood asthma.

I looked for other options to serve and discovered the AmeriCorps program. I ended up moving to Boston as an AmeriCorps volunteer to work in inner city schools. I did that for two years, running tutoring programs and learning programs for middle and high school students.

Then I took a third year off of school — my folks thought I was never going back to college — to work for the Kerry campaign in 2004. I realized, after two years of giving community service full time, that political service and governance is how you effect the most change for the most amount of people. If good people don’t run for public office, then you have people who poorly represent our country and our state and — in my particular race — in District 27. Continue reading