Let's Take a Moment to Appreciate Clarence Thomas' Three Decades on the Supreme Court

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

After an eventful and historic end to the Supreme Court 2022-2023 term, I think it might be time to take a moment and simply appreciate the current Senior Associate Justice, Clarence Thomas. If you recall, he was nominated by George H.W. Bush in 1991, and coming up at the end of October this year, he will have served a total of 32 years on the High Court.


What a damn fine run it has been.

I know that doing an overview of Thomas’s time on the court usually would include his controversial confirmation process that was spearheaded by former Sens. Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy, but I don’t want to dwell on that. Instead, I would like to focus on the fact that he has been on the court for over three decades, and only the good Lord knows how much longer this country will be blessed to have him giving his opinion on the large and important cases of the day.

This thought occurred to me as I was perusing the Salem/Townhall universe and came across a post by our colleague  Spencer Brown over at TownHall: Clarence Thomas Opinion in Affirmative Action Case Is a Work of Art 

In his usual style, Justice Thomas traces the history of the United States and its citizens’ ongoing efforts to pursue a more perfect union — efforts that haven’t always been smooth and have, at points, failed to move the country forward. Still, Thomas shares his optimism that America will continue to become a better place, all while excoriating the left’s “equity” agenda.

“The solution to our Nation’s racial problems thus cannot come from policies grounded in affirmative action or some other conception of equity,” Thomas writes. “Racialism simply cannot be undone by different or more racialism. Instead, the solution announced in the second founding is incorporated in our Constitution: that we are all equal, and should be treated equally before the law without regard to our race,” he adds. “Only that promise can allow us to look past our differing skin colors.”


My colleague here at RedState, Sister Toldjah, also wrote about Thomas’s scorching opinion in the UNC case. She went over his verbal bombing of his colleague Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s dissenting opinion.

Accordingly, JUSTICE JACKSON’s race-infused world view falls flat at each step. Individuals are the sum of their unique experiences, challenges, and accomplishments. What matters is not the barriers they face, but how they choose to confront them. And their race is not to blame for everything—good or bad—that happens in their lives. A contrary, myopic world view based on individuals’ skin color to the total exclusion of their personal choices is nothing short of racial determinism.

JUSTICE JACKSON then builds from her faulty premise to call for action, arguing that courts should defer to “experts” and allow institutions to discriminate on the basis of race. Make no mistake: Her dissent is not a vanguard of the in-nocent and helpless. It is instead a call to empower privileged elites, who will “tell us [what] is required to level the playing field” among castes and classifications that they alone can divine. Post, at 26; see also post, at 5–7 (GORSUCH, J., concurring) (explaining the arbitrariness of these classifications). Then, after siloing us all into racial castes and pitting those castes against each other, the dissent somehow believes that we will be able—at some undefined point—to “march forward together” into some utopian vision. Post, at 26 (opinion of JACKSON, J.). Social movements that invoke these sorts of rallying cries, historically, have ended disastrously.

Unsurprisingly, this tried-and-failed system defies both law and reason. Start with the obvious: If social reorganization in the name of equality may be justified by the mere fact of statistical disparities among racial groups, then that reorganization must continue until these disparities are fully eliminated, regardless of the reasons for the disparities and the cost of their elimination. If blacks fail a test at higher rates than their white counterparts (regardless of whether the reason for the disparity has anything at all to do with race), the only solution will be race-focused measures. If those measures were to result in blacks failing at yet higher rates, the only solution would be to double down. In fact, there would seem to be no logical limit to what the government may do to level the racial playing field—outright wealth transfers, quota systems, and racial preferences would all seem permissible. In such a system, it would not matter how many innocents suffer race-based injuries; all that would matter is reaching the race-based goal.


This may seem like a bit of an odd observation about somebody who has been doing his job for almost 32 years. Yet it seems that in the past couple of years, Thomas has been getting to stretch his legs a little bit and has hit his stride in his role on the court.

Some might not know that beginning around 2006, the Justice went almost a decade without asking a question in oral arguments. That has changed now, and he does frequently question those appearing before the court and is not shy about showing his hand at what he thinks of a case. This has been a pleasant addition to his writings over the years.

I wrote the other day about how important it is to get quality judges nominated and confirmed, but I also think that it is important to recognize the gift we have of who we have serving right now. Thomas has led the charge, I believe, both publicly and behind the walls of the Justices’ chambers to argue his view of adherence to the Constitution.

That matters not only for the cases that were just handed down but also for a roadmap of who future Presidents should look to as role models of people to nominate. The three Justices that Donald Trump nominated during his four years as President have given Justice Thomas some chances to write some brilliant majority opinions, and it has been well worth the wait to see horrible decisions like Roe v. Wade bite the dust.


I hope Justice Thomas has many more years driving the progressive wing of politicians and their ilk crazy and will continue to serve the nation’s High Court as he has for the past three decades.


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