When Will They Apologize to Clarence Thomas?

As we pulled back into town from a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in Southern Utah, I turned the last page of My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas. Before I go to sleep, I want to jot down some of the feelings that Justice Thomas' recounting of his life's path have engendered in me. Foremost in my thoughts is this--a confirmation that Clarence Thomas is one of the greatest men ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

As a newlywed nearly 17 years ago, I remember being awed by the commanding presence of Clarence Thomas as he was pilloried by the media during his Supreme Court confirmation and nearly lynched by most of the liberal members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee chambers became an abysmal three-ring sacrifice, complete with leaks (likely by members of that very committee) of allegations about Clarence Thomas as sordid as they were false. My only regret these years later is that I didn't join in with the thousands of Americans who thanked Justice Thomas for enduring a vile and thankless confirmation process. Justice Thomas, thank you for enduring. It was worth it to America.

After reading Justice Thomas' autobiography, my respect for him has grown immensely. It is beyond me to fathom how anyone can read the same book and come to a different conclusion.

It was very clear that the allegations of Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas were disgraceful fabrication. I cheered then as Clarence Thomas reminded the liberal members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 that they were participating in a high-tech lynching. I cheered again as I read those same words spoken in noble defiance nearly two decades ago. The anti-Thomas committee members knew then that they were involved in the most racist of acts, yet they bore on. They knew that they could not afford to allow an "uppity black" to take his rightful place as a member of the Supreme Court. And they nearly succeeded.

Nearly two decades later, truth has vindicated Clarence Thomas, and he has served with great distinction on the United States Supreme Court. Those who dragged his reputation through the refuse have, as far as I know, never apologized to Clarence Thomas. Howard Metzenbaum, Edward Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, and Joseph Biden are, due to their collusion in the process, unfit to be representatives of the high trust of the United States. Yet several of them are still there. And none of them have ever apologized. As I look through the forgiving eyes of Clarence Thomas, I would expect Anita Hill to issue a tearful apology for becoming a pawn in a most dangerous game. If she could only understand that it would not be embarrassing to make such an admission--it would be a relief, not only to the nation, but to herself.

In retrospect of the confirmation hearings, Justice Thomas stated:
I wasn't [their] kind of judge, or [their] kind of person. I had sworn to administer justice "faithfully and impartially." To do otherwise would be to violate my oath. That meant I had no business imposing my personal views on the country. Nor did I have the slightest intention of doing so.
To this day, Clarence Thomas has done his best to keep that promise. In my opinion, he has succeeded, which is rather different from some other justices whom he served or is serving with on the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has become a man of immense grace and wisdom. He has shown the pattern for forgiveness in the face of the vilest of calumnies, something that I would likely not have been man enough to do. Will those whose unjust opprobrium was heaped like refuse upon his head ever apologize to Clarence Thomas? Not likely. But no matter. It is enough for him that those who have studied the issue from the perspective of fairness know what the true story is.

Truth always ultimately prevails. As it has in the case of Clarence Thomas.


  1. Huh? I stand by my judgment that Clarence Thomas is our least-qualified, least able Supreme Court justice.

  2. Glad to see you read the book. Very intriguing that you would get such an opposite "take away" from it than I did.

    Regardless, won't be apologizing to Thomas anytime soon. He has been no legal genius, exactly, nor a saint. Even if he had, those hearings were far too long ago to justify the amount of whining he's still doing.

    I don't admire such self pity.

  3. Not only will they not apologize, they'll keep doing it. Case in point: Miguel Estrada, and almost Janice Rogers Brown.

  4. Richard,

    So far your words against Clarence Thomas have been empty epithets. Would you care to use any evidence?


    Self pity? How would you feel if someone dragged your name through the dirt like Anita Hill and the Senate Judiciary liberals did to Clarence Thomas. He has every right to tell his story, because it happened to him. You would wish to tell your story as well. You say he's been no legal genius. Would you care to expound on that with examples?


    I read Anita Hill's opinion piece. The main point of it is to say that we have come a long way toward reducing sexual harrassment in the workplace. In no way does she refute Thomas's disavowal of her assertions. In a clever slight of hand, all she does is to say that he has said incorrect things about her religion, work ethic, etc. She is a liar about Clarence Thomas supposed improprieties, and she knows it.

    She is correct that it is not simply her word against his--it is her word against his and the FBI's, who investigated her claims and found them thoroughly without merit. How inconvenient that she does not name those who supposedly came forward after the hearings. By needing additional witnesses, whom she does not name, she inadvertently implies that she did not believe the testimony of the three who DID come forward during the hearings, whose testimony wasn't believable then anyway.

    For the record, Don, are you saying that you believe Anita Hill 100% and not Clarence Thomas? Or is it somewhere in between?

  5. Frank,
    Did you see where Anita Hill said she stands by her testimony in the hearings? She most certainly is refuting Thomas' portrayal of her in his book.

    For the record, Frank, I would never say one person or the other is "100%" believable. But I have a hard time believing that she just made it all up. I haven't read the book, and have not done any extensive research. But from what I have read, I'm more inclined to believe Hill over Thomas. Apparently, you're of the impression that she's a bald faced liar. What exactly would her motive be for making up such tawdry tales?

  6. Frank, in commenting on a previous post of yours I noted that Clarence Thomas does not believe in stare decisis, the basis for almost every Supreme Court decision. That alone makes him incompetent to sit on the Supreme Court.

    Let me also note that Thomas basically never saw the inside of a courtroom until 1990 when Bush 41 appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, probably the most important court in the country except for the Supreme Court. Then a year later, he was nominated to be a Supreme Court justice.

    During his confirmation hearings, Thomas claimed: "As for the matter of my judicial philosophy, I didn’t have one—and didn’t want one." He refused to answer legal questions, even claiming that he not only had no views about Roe v. Wade but had never in his life discussed the case!

    Thomas was the only justice that agreed with all arguments of the Bush administration in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay "violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions," Thomas dissented!

    Oh, and Thomas voted to appoint George W. Bush as President of the United States, despite the fact that Bush's father appointed him to the Supreme Court. Can you say conflict of interest?

    There's more, but I need to go back to work.

    For another view of the Thomas book, see Jeffrey Toobin's review in The New Yorker.

    P.S. I believe Anita Hill.

  7. Richard,

    Stare decisis is a guide, not a rule. If you believe that we must always follow previous precedents, decisions could never be overturned such as when Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy. Are you arguing that Brown was wrongly decided on the basis of stare decisis?

  8. James Taranto had some interesting commentary on this issue after the Thomas book came out. The following is from that article:

    "You are under no obligation to believe him or to disbelieve her. But no one has suggested that her charges were substantial enough to hold up in court, even civil court. To be sure, Senate confirmation is a political proceeding, not a judicial one, so that the standard is political: not reasonable doubt or preponderance of the evidence but merely whether enough senators can be induced to switch their vote. This standard is so low as to be almost subterranean, but Hill failed to meet even it. Her testimony changed at least three votes; she would have needed three more.

    "Even by political standards, Justice Thomas was treated unjustly, for Hill's charges never should have seen the light of day under the procedures designed to protect nominees from unsubstantiated accusations."

  9. Richard,

    I agree with Bradley's response to you about stare decisis.

    It is true that he hadn't been a judge for very long, as hadn't a couple of other current Supreme Court justices (Souter, Gisburg, I think?) Bush I had considered Thomas earlier, but thought that at the time he didn't have enough experience. Thomas was a lawyer --for several years early in his career--working for John Danforth in the state of Missouri.

    His personal opinion of Roe v Wade before joining the court, ironically, was that the government has no business telling a woman what to do with her body. Although he still believes that, he has since looked at the case and felt that Roe was incorrectly decided. I agree.

    Clarence Thomas DID NOT appoint GW Bush as president. That is a very prejudiced and short-sighted view. It was his opinion that, good or bad, FLORIDA LAW said that there was a limited time period for recounts to occur. Hopefully, Florida has fixed its law by now. No judge has the authority to fix a law that is broken, even if everyone in the world wants to.

    Thomas opinion in Hamdan vs Rumsfeld was that the courts had no jurisdiction over the matter, and that Congress let the genie out of the bottle when it passed the Authorized Use of Military Force. He dissented with Scalia and Alito. To you it seems that Supreme Court decisions should be political ones--to Thomas, Alito, Scalia, and Roberts, their decisions should be about interpretation of the actual laws, and they can be nothing more.

  10. Bradley,

    As a point of response to Jason, I take the following from James Taranto's article that you link to:

    A point of personal privilege: We know Justice Thomas, having met him in 1993; and the caricature of him as "angry" and "bitter" is wildly at odds with our own experience. We have always found him to be warm, gracious and avuncular. The last time we saw him, at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, he was ebullient, smiling widely and laughing often. When we arrived, he greeted us with a vigorous handshake and a "Hey, buddy!" If he is bitter and angry, he certainly hides it well.

    This is not to say that he has always been at peace with himself and the world. As a younger man, he went through periods of rage and confusion, as many intelligent and intense young men do. Yet his memoir--which ends in 1991, with his taking a seat on the Supreme Court--is not a lament but a story of struggle and redemption.

  11. I never said stare decisis was a rule. It is a fundamental principle of the law which Clarence Thomas does not believe in. He thus shows his ignorance and incompetence as a judge.

  12. With regard to Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction. Thomas and the other Republicans on the Court acted in a partisan political way to appoint a President before the State of Florida could finish a proper recount. That's a fact.

  13. Richard,

    Read Supreme Conflict by Jan Crawford Greenburg to get a better understanding of what the court was going through. I don't think that your fact is a fact.

  14. Maybe you could just tell me how the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to rule on the Florida recount in 2000.

  15. I'm no expert, but according to Wikipedia:

    "Final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had" may be appealed to the Supreme Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1257.

  16. Frank,

    There is a difference between telling your storing and writing the equivalent of "look how mean everybody was to me!" And unless you have insider information that the rest of the nation doesn't, I think it is quite an assumption to say his name was "dragged through the mud." Anita Hill was not alone in her allegations, nor did they erupt only after his nomination. More, Thomas lied repeatedly during the hearing (a fact he later admitted, saying it was only the "small stuff" he was dishonest about). This is a man whose respect for the law you admire? These are the actions of a "hero"? It is also important to remember, the investigating Senate committee reported "without recommendation" after the hearings, and then Thomas was in on the smallest vote margin in the history of the court.

    And yes, I would love to expand on my statement that he is no legal genius. To begin with, he responds FROM THE BENCH with once sentence (sometimes ONE WORD) remarks, and believes the other Justice's "talk too much." Which is ironic, as that is their job, and the only way legal understanding can be achieved within the structure of the court.

    Other examples: He supports executing the mentally retarded, in a 2001 AEI lecture, he called himself a "martyr" and professed an agenda to stab back at civil-rights groups, he has stated he "can't think of anything good the NAACP has done," he opposes the Calder Vs. Bull decision that basically established foundation of prohibiting retroactive punishment, and has expressed an interest in reexamining basic elements of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which protects workers and civil rights.

    There are hundreds more like this. Thomas seems to have a vendetta against the civil-rights community, and an intention to take issue (and waste time?) challenging every previous court opinion, just for the sake of challenging it. To me, this says the man lacks intelligence, or vision, or both.

    Also, Bill Cosby doesn't like him. Heh. Actually, it is a relevant and accurate summation Cosby gives in the interview, so I don't introduce it completely as jest. Cosby called him "Brother, Lite."


  17. Don,

    Here is a much more skilled refutation of Hill's op-ed than is Hill's op-ed a refutation of Thomas's book.

    I think calling Hill a bald-faced liar would be to draw attention away from the most important points--she didn't come forth until AFTER Thomas had originally been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, she sought (but was denied) to be an anonymous witness, and 3 senators on the Judiciary Committee changed their votes based on this (as determined by the FBI) baseless screed.

    I think it, rather, correct to call her a pawn in the power game who is now very embarrassed by what she did, but she would be more embarrassed by admitting that someone helped her make it all up.

  18. Further on in the very same paragraph on Wikipedia:

    "Since the Florida Supreme Court remanded the case, it is somewhat surprising that the Supreme Court heard Bush v. Gore at all."

    In other words, there was not a final decision by the Florida Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court went out of bounds to issue a hasty decision. I'm not blaming Clarence Thomas for this, of course, but he went along with it.

  19. Richard,

    In response to your previous question that I sum up about Bush v. Gore:

    Gore asked for a recount in Florida. A recount occurred. Katherine Harris certified that the recount was correct and declared Bush the winner. Gore sued. In a highly politicized decision, the Florida Supreme Court ordered another recount. Bush appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court on December 9. December 11 the case was heard. By federal law, electoral votes had to be certified by December 12. By a 5-4 decision, the Court determined that the Florida Supreme Court was creating new law by requiring another recount, etc. Courts cannot create new law. Five justices decided correctly on a case that had been properly appealed to them. Four did not. Five justices made a decision based on the law and the facts. Four made a decision based on politics and feelings.

    It is not correct to say that the US Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush. It is, rather, correct to say that the Court found the Florida Supreme Court "in contempt" of the laws of Florida. The result was that the Attorney General's certification of George W. Bush as the winner was allowed to stand.

    Good Florida law? I don't know. But tell me how the Florida Supreme Court had a right to change it?

    It appears to me that your feelings are colored by the fact that you wanted Gore to be president. Mine on the other hand, are not so colored, because I wouldn't have voted for either of the dipsticks if you held a gun to my head.

  20. Frank, why resort to ad hominem argument? I voted for Ralph Nader, not Gore (in Utah it made no difference anyway). You ascribe my view of the Supreme Court's coup d'etat to mere "feelings." But it's not just my opinion, it's what history will record.

  21. How do you figure that it's ad hominem? I said that 'it appeared', and I'm glad that you answered the question.

    I apologize.

  22. This is a good discussion, and I invite you and anyone else interested to continue it over on One Utah.

  23. It is certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. BTW, why don't you change design :).

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