The Wright decision

In dismissing Paula Jones’s sexual-harassment suit against President Bill Clinton before it went to trial, Judge Susan Webber Wright sounded a note of clarity amidst the din of accusations surrounding the president. Judge Wright, a Republican appointed by President George Bush, ruled that even if Jones’s allegations were true, such behavior, however crude, did not constitute sexual harassment under Arkansas law. The spuriousness of Jones’s case was long noted by commentators familiar with sexual harassment law and not necessarily sympathetic to Clinton. Moreover, Judge Wright’s decision confirms the public’s suspicion that, however morally flawed Clinton may be as a husband, the attempt to criminalize his private life is largely politically motivated. In the absence of any plausible evidence linking Clinton to criminal acts, the American public rightly continues to give him the benefit of the doubt. At this juncture it is impossible to know how much truth, if any, there was in Jones’s allegations concerning a vulgar sexual proposition. But one thing does seem clear. Financed and managed by right-wing groups whose transparent interest was in damaging Clinton politically, Jones sadly appears to have allowed herself to be as exploited by her advocates as she alleges she was by the then governor of Arkansas.

Several other aspects of Clinton’s ongoing problems are also clearer in the wake of the Wright decision....

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