Who is Clarence Thomas? What to know about the Supreme Court's longest serving justice
- Thomas was nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1991.
- Thomas is the longest-serving justice on the court.
- Thomas replaced Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving of the justices, having sat on the Supreme Court for more than thirty years . Thomas is known as something of a conservative maverick – and his tenure has been partly defined by a readiness to stand alone. Thomas, among the court's most prolific writers, often authors more solo dissents than the rest of his colleagues.
President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to the high court in 1991. A native of Pin Point, Georgia, raised during the Jim Crow era, Thomas became the second Black Supreme Court justice after Thurgood Marshall.
The Senate, voting 52-48, confirmed Thomas, then 43, following heated hearings that were dominated by the sexual harassment allegations made by professor Anita Hill. Thomas denied the allegations.
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Who is Clarence Thomas?
Clarence Thomas is the 106th justice to sit on the Supreme Court. He previously served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Before that he held several positions in state and federal government, including an eight-year stint as chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency that enforces laws prohibiting workplace discrimination.
Thomas was as assistant attorney general in Missouri in 1974. He briefly worked as an attorney for the Monsanto Company, an agrochemical company, and as a legislative assistant for John Danforth, R-Mo. Thomas worked in the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan administration as assistant secretary of civil rights from 1981 until 1982, when he took over as chairman of the EEOC.
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How old is Clarence Thomas?
Thomas was born on June 23, 1948. He is 74.
Where did Clarence Thomas grow up?
Thomas grew up in Pin Point, Georgia, in the 1950s during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation in the South. He was raised by his grandparents.
Who appointed Clarence Thomas?
President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to the court in 1991.
Who did Clarence Thomas replace?
Clarence Thomas replaced retiring Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was the Supreme Court’s first Black justice.
Is Clarence Thomas liberal or conservative?
Thomas is often considered the most conservative justice on the court.
What is Clarence Thomas’ political party affiliation?
Thomas was nominated by a Republican president, but it isn’t clear if Thomas is a registered Republican. An investigation by judicial watchdog nonprofit Fix The Court into the voter registration of the Supreme Court justices did not obtain any voter registration records for Thomas.
Is Clarence Thomas an originalist?
Thomas is considered the most uncompromising originalist justice.
He is often willing to dismiss precedents he feels were wrongly decided in favor of his interpretation of the Constitution's original meaning. He is one of the likeliest justices to issue a solo opinion.
What is one of Clarence Thomas’ most important opinions?
In cases involving the First Amendment, Thomas has been an ardent critic of regulations that limit speech.
In 2001, he wrote the majority 6-3 opinion in Good News Club v. Milford Central School, which held that a public school violated a Christian club's free speech rights when it denied the group the ability to meet in the building after school hours. Allowing the group to meet, the court ruled, did not violate the First Amendment's prohibition on the government endorsing religion.
How long has Clarence Thomas been a justice?
Thomas is the longest serving justice. His tenure began in 1991. In 2021, he celebrated 30 years on the court.
Where did Clarence Thomas go to school?
Thomas received a degree in English in 1971 from College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1974.
How does Clarence Thomas vote?
Thomas votes with the conservative wing of the court most of the time. In the 2020 term, he agreed with conservative Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch more than 80% of the time and liberal Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor only 45% of the time, according to the Harvard Law Review.
Is Clarence Thomas Catholic?
Thomas grew up Catholic. Before venturing into law, Thomas attended seminary school with the aim of becoming a Catholic priest. That journey ended when Thomas became dismayed at the reaction of fellow seminary students to the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Who is Clarence Thomas’ wife?
In 1987, Clarence married Virginia Thomas, who goes by "Ginni." Ginni Thomas is an attorney who is well known in Washington for her conservative activism.
Ginni Thomas became a leader in the tea party movement during the early years of President Barack Obama's tenure. In 2009, she founded "Liberty Central" a now-defunct conservative advocacy organization before starting a conservative lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting.
Ginni Thomas' activism has raised questions about whether Justice Thomas should recuse himself in certain cases involving political issues. For instance, several news organizations reported in March that Ginni Thomas was repeatedly in touch with senior members of President Donald Trump's administration following the 2020 election. That has raised questions about whether a number of election-related cases that have come before the high court present a conflict for the justice.
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Does Clarence Thomas have children?
Thomas has a son, Jamal.
Contributing: John Fritze
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