Those of us of a certain age will remember the confirmation hearings of one Clarence Thomas back in 1991. Many of us of a liberal persuasion perceived the scrutiny to be so extreme as to be another example of subtle racism. Offseting the outrage of watching a black man having to be judged by a group of white guys was the scandalous testimony of some of the witnesses. It was absolutely must see TV.
The testimony of Anita Hill was as compelling as any soap opera. You didn’t dare change the channel or you would miss some other salacious fact about Thomas’ abusive treatment of women in the workplace. In addition to Anita Hill other women offered to testify in support of Ms. Hill but were not called. Republicans were hot to push through the candidate that would be the anti-Thurgood Marshall. Too much scrutiny would undoubtedly disqualify their candidate. Clarence Thomas has now worked diligently on the court for 32 years to repudiate the social justice of his predecessor and to reward the Republican party for their faith in him.
How did a poor boy from Georgia whose ancestors were slaves become a stalwart for the privileged? A cheeky answer might be that he looked around and saw who held the lash. It’s easy to be the Judas goat when you realize that you have been spared while the others that look like you suffer. I think Thomas’ pathology goes deeper.
Raised as a Catholic, attending Catholic schools until graduate school baked in a conservative mindset that was not tempered by family. Nuns and priests have a very narrow worldview and it was this environment that framed Thomas’ formative years. I’m sure he learned early as many of us did, if you don’t want to get whacked with a ruler, or worse, you get on the program. Get on the program he did.
Denying his roots, he once ruled that slavery didn’t create any loss of dignity. I guess we’ll just have to take his word for it and ignore the billions of words written to the contrary.
Giving opinions that seem to fly in the face of common sense has been Thomas’ trademark. Even his most conservative peers have referred to him as a nut. Perhaps it’s been this type of rebuke that has led to his moniker as the “silent justice“. Early in his tenure Thomas decided it was better “to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
Though silent, Thomas never lost sight of who had allowed him the privilege of dispensing justice as they saw fit. Rulings like convicted domestic abusers should be able to own guns and that states can gerrymander districts to the detriment of his people are but two in a long list of Thomas opinions kowtowing to the man. His acceptance of the stay indicating that he would let Trump maintain control of all of his records in direct conflict with the Presidential Records Act is but another example of the man who identifies with his oppressor.
Of course, Thomas is not oppressed. He leads a very good life married to a very successful lobbyist. So successful that she dares to call on the ouster of Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinziger from Congress for their work on the 01/06 committee. Thomas’ wife is so inside that she was invited to a meeting that included the Oath Keepers.
Her interest in the coup has tainted Thomas in an untenable way. What happens if there is a case brought before the court that Thomas knows will lead to jail time for his wife? Can we count on him to recuse? I think we’ve got 30 years of examples to know he won’t do the correct thing. He may do the “right” thing, but it won’t be the moral thing.
A man that can deny his own benefit from the affirmative action that he received but wants to deny others, has no sense of self. Retirement for Uncle Clarence can’t come too soon.