The second African American to become a justice of the Supreme Court, Thomas has been one of the most consistently conservative justices to serve on the Court since the New Deal era.
A descendant of Georgia slaves, Clarence Thomas grew up speaking the Geechee dialect, a mixture of English and several West African languages. At the age of two, his father left his mother, and a few years thereafter he and his brother moved to Savannah, Georgia, to live with grandparents, who instilled in him the values of hard work, self-reliance, and ambition. He was a good student in high school, and after graduating cum laude at the College of the Holy Cross, he attended the Yale University Law School, graduating in 1974. There has been inconclusive debate about whether he benefited from affirmative action
After his graduation, Thomas became an assistant attorney general for Missouri attorney general John Danforth
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush
The confirmation hearings for Thomas created great controversy and unprecedented public interest. Liberal and civil rights organizations denounced the nomination. The American Bar Association
Thomas’s constitutional jurisprudence combined a commitment to natural rights with the doctrines of “textualism” and “originalism,” focusing on the literal words of the text informed by the original intent of its framers. In addition, Thomas demonstrated a strong commitment to individualism and strong distrust of federal power and modern secularism. His views most often coincided with those of Justice Antonin Scalia, except that Thomas was less inclined to defer to the precedents of the Court (called the doctrine of stare decisis)
Advocating color-blind governmental policies, Thomas found nothing wrong with de facto racial segregation,
Concerning the constitutional right of privacy, Thomas has frequently declared that the Fourteenth Amendment protects only those “liberty interests”
Thomas has firmly supported states’ rights
Thomas has almost always agreed with the pro-law-and-order perspective. Applying the Eighth Amendment narrowly in Hudson v. McMillan
On other issues as well, Thomas could normally be counted on to vote for the conservative viewpoint. In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
Bader, William H., and Roy M. Mersky, eds. The First One Hundred Eight Justices. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 2004. Davis, Richard. Electing Justice: Fixing the Supreme Court Nomination Process. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Foskett, Ken. Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Gerber, Scott Douglas. First Principles: The Jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas. New York: New York University Press, 1999. Greenya, John. Silent Justice: The Clarence Thomas Story. Ft. Lee, N.J.: Barricade Books, 2001. Hensley, Thomas R. The Rehnquist Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2006. Marcosson, Samuel A. Original Sin: Clarence Thomas and the Failure of the Constitutional Conservatives. New York: New York University Press, 2002. Mayer, Jane, and Jill Abramson. Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. Smith, Christopher, and Joyce Baugh. The Real Clarence Thomas: Confirmation Veracity Meets Performance Reality. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. Thomas, Andrew P. Clarence Thomas: A Biography. New York: Encounter Press, 2002.
Bush v. Gore
Hudson v. Michigan
Nominations to the Court
Rehnquist, William H.
Senate Judiciary Committee