SCOTUS Spotlight – Clarence Thomas

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Supreme Court Justices have lifetime tenure and Justice Thomas is the longest sitting member of the Court, serving for 29 years. In his young years in Savannah, Georgia, his father left, his family struggled financially, and a fire left him, his sister, and his mother homeless. The three of them moved in with his maternal grandparents where he became the first black student admitted to St. John Vianney to become a priest. After many years of pursuing becoming a priest, he was disappointed with the Catholic Church’s passive stance on Civil Rights so he decided to change paths to a legal career focused on Civil Rights. After graduating from the College of the Holy Cross, he attended Yale Law School. Clarence Thomas had a noteworthy yet brief career on the Court of Appeals before Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court. Before he could be officially appointed, Senate hearings took place regarding sexual harassment claims against him. Thomas rigorously denied all allegations and in October 1991 he was confirmed by the senate and appointed as a Supreme Court Justice by the narrowest margin in a century. As the second African American to serve on the court, Justice Thomas is known for his conservative approach. By conservative, we mean that he reads the constitution as it is: he looks at the words and makes his decisions based on that alone. This is in comparison to other justices who will read the constitution and interpret the words into modern-day context. Justice Thomas’s votes consistently reflect a small government stance. He has voted consistently for outcomes that promote state autonomy by restricting the federal government’s control on the states. While Thomas’s conservative approach has seldom been the majority of the court, and therefore, not the law, with more conservative justices added to the court in the last couple of years, (making conservative Justices the majority in comparison to the liberal Justices), we may start seeing more law that reflects Thomas’s conservative approach.

%d bloggers like this: