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The real questions raised by Clarence Thomas’ latest scandal

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Teahat to a person can start with clarence thomas Supreme Court As a country that welcomes individual potential with limitless possibility, America lives up to its most cherished dream. Mr. Thomas was born in 1948 in the isolated hamlet of Pin Point, on the coast of Georgia, in a shack with no electric light and running water. When he was about seven, he moved with his mother and brother to Savannah, where she worked as a housekeeper and they lived in an apartment that lacked plumbing.

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Then his mother sent the boys to live with her parents. Grandfather—they called him Daddy, who had little regard for himself—put them to work selling hot oil during the school year and planting crops in the summer. He beat them as he saw fit, and he never praised them.

Racism in its obvious and insidious cruelty dogged Clarence Thomas from his very birth. He drank from black-only fountains and attended black-only schools, and even there his dark skin set him apart. When the teacher came out of ear, the fair-skinned students made fun of him “ABC”, America’s blackest child.

Planning to become a priest, Mr. Thomas went to seminary, but his calling faded as he felt the Catholic Church spared too little of its religiosity to combat racism. When he learned that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot, his business disappeared: “That’s cool,” he heard a student say about King. “I hope that son of a bitch dies.” After leaving the seminary, Mr. Thomas tried to return home, but was kicked out by his grandfather, who had attended the third grade. “You’ll probably end up like your good dad or those other good Pin Point negroes,” he said. (Mr. Thomas considers his grandfather the greatest man he ever met.)

Fearing that he might never be able to overcome segregation in such a racist country, Mr. Thomas marched and rioted. He also got himself into Yale Law School, only to discover a more insidious racism. At the seminary, he was told that he was succeeding despite his caste; Because of this, he doubted his success at Yale. He feared that he would never escape the stigma of racial preference. He drank heavily, got divorced, and struggled to make ends meet even after becoming chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Ronald Reagan. American Express canceled her card, and she was nearly evicted from her rented apartment.

The list of groups that offended Clarence Thomas is long: light-skinned black people who considered themselves superior; White conservatives who adored a black man could not share his views; Black liberals who believed a black man should not share such views; white liberals who believed so; probably most wealthy white men, including Joe Biden, who had the audacity to question his commitment to racial justice during his Senate confirmation hearings, and then hurt her with allegations of sexual harassment, which he denied. Mr. Thomas played by the rules, he wrote in his autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son,” only to learn that “whites can change those rules whenever they want. It’s always been that way, and it always will be that way.”

The effort to look through Justice Thomas’s eyes is to see how he might have felt that America’s elite owed him something, even, perhaps, ferrying half a million between the islands of Indonesia by private jet and ferry. Dollar trip. As a justice, he could now make the rules, or at least interpret them. In early April, the investigative publication ProPublica revealed that for more than two decades Justice Thomas has accepted luxury trips almost every year from Harlan Crowe, a right-wing Texas billionaire, without disclosing them.

This is an old Washington story. Public servants—journalists too—rub elbows with lobbyists and lawyers who earn far more than they do. It may be hard to pity a justice making $285,400 a year, but it’s not hard to imagine some justices feeling sorry for themselves, just a little, as they listen to the arguments of lesser, wealthier lawyers in bespoke suits. Are. The downside of life time is that they, unlike the senators and generals they are known for, will never cash in as lobbyists. But they can find other ways to pass the time in what F. Scott Fitzgerald called “the comforting closeness of millionaires.”

No one has seriously argued that a judge’s vacations vitiate his decisions. As much as liberals disdain his judicial philosophy, Justice Thomas followed it as hard as he could. The last time he was in the news for his ethics, the matter was more troubling: He failed to recuse himself from cases involving allies of his wife, Virginia, who worked to overturn the 2020 election. The new uproar raises questions less about Justice Thomas than about the Supreme Court itself.

useless for prosecution

In a statement, Justice Thomas said that years ago he “sought guidance from my colleagues” and learned that he did not have to disclose gifts from Mr. Crowe, as a friend who has no business before the court. It shifts responsibility to the entire Court, specifically to Chief Justice John Roberts. Are Justice Thomas’s practices typical, and are they Correct, The Supreme Court has no code of conduct, and judging by past comments, Chief Justice Roberts prefers to live in a world of trust and respect.

Who wouldn’t? The problem is that this is not the world in which Americans live. Not only because a certain former president constantly says so, the public has good reason to suspect that American justice is below par. And how can a federal judge feel free to swap his decision with the Food and Drug Administration’s decision and ban a trusted abortion drug? Why would political parties spend millions of dollars to contest a swing seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court? And what else can the public infer from Chief Justice Roberts’ disregard for court precedent, now that Republicans have shifted their balance? Polling shows that most Americans no longer have much faith in the justice system or the Supreme Court. Maybe judges should stop making cases for the prosecution and start defending.

Read more from Lexington, our columnist on American politics:
Why do the Democrats keep helping Trump? (April 5)
How to Write a Perfect 2024 Campaign Book (28 March)
How the Iraq War Became a Threat to American Democracy (22 March)

Also: How the Lexington Column got its name

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