Ashley Judd, who worked with Anita Hill on the court for a decade, said Justice Ginsburg has opened “a door of opportunity” for others, especially women. In particular, she said she admires the Justice’s leadership on issues of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. (Photo: AP)

Washington: Anita Hill, whose sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas tore open the racial and sexual discrimination history of the US Supreme Court, praised Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a “woman of extraordinary courage” in an emotional speech at the Washington Black Lawyers Association in the nation’s capital.

Hill, 80, who worked with Ginsburg on the court for a decade, said Justice Ginsburg has opened “a door of opportunity” for others, especially women. She also said her advice to Ginsburg would be to “never back down from an opportunity” and “be willing to listen and see things from a different point of view.”

She told guests at the organisation’s 65th annual meeting on Tuesday that Ginsburg was a “wonderful person” who “will stand in my and my friends’ way” and remain steadfast despite being labelled a “feminist martyr.” The women’s rights activist, the first black woman to sit on the court, was among 13 women who came forward with sexual harassment allegations against the retiring Justice Thomas.

When Thomas was denied the right to vote by then-President Bill Clinton, Hill claimed sexual harassment when the Justice described her for having put her hand on the then-presidential candidate’s knee while on an elevator, but said she had decided at the time not to press charges. In the fall of 2001, Hill said she chose not to press charges, arguing at the time that she had not done anything wrong.

She made the new allegation in a 90-page Senate report that offered rare insight into what it was like to be a female jurist in the turbulent times following the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Senate eventually concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the sexual harassment allegations that spurred the investigation.

She rejected the notion that she had been a victim of a hoax, saying that the accusations were true. On Tuesday, though, Hill said she was also “heartbroken” that she was not able to move forward with litigation that may ultimately shed light on the impeachment proceedings against Thomas by the Senate in 1991, when Thomas was two years out of the court.

“I will never forgive myself for not being there when I should have been,” she said. As many as 14 people are working on legal action against the justice, trying to get him removed from office.