The Corner

Law & the Courts

Clarence Thomas Speaks

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2017 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Those who know Justice Clarence Thomas say that any perception of him as dour or phlegmatic couldn’t be more off-base. He’s a charming, gracious, jovial man, full of bonhomie and easy with a laugh, or so I’m told by people who know him well. On summer breaks he likes to roam around the country in an RV and stay at campgrounds with ordinary Americans.

Nevertheless, if you go ten years without asking a question at oral argument on the Supreme Court, you will develop a reputation for being taciturn. A “Garbo Talks!” moment is coming, though. Thomas is about to tell his whole story on camera for the first time in the documentary Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words, directed by Michael Pack. The film hits theaters next Friday, and Thomas doesn’t hold back about his Senate confirmation hearing or anything else. About the tangled questions put to him by the then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Joe Biden, Thomas says, “One of the things you do in hearings is you have to sit there and look attentively at people you know have no idea what they’re talking about. I have to be perfectly honest with you — you sit there, and you have no idea what they are talking about.”

In the clip below Thomas looks over the shockingly racist portrayals of him in the media, calling them, “stereotypes draped in sanctimony and self-congratulation. There’s different sets of rules for different people” because “you’re not really black because you’re not doing what we expect black people to do.”

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