Justice Clarence Thomas is one of the last century’s most prescient, well-reasoned, humble, and ultimately inspirational justices. That is exactly why leftwing activists – and complicit congressional Democrats – want him off the Court. He is influential, a real powerhouse, and hard to intimidate.
When you read stories that seek to sully this good man, and his conservative, prolific, and equally principled wife Ginny, keep three facts close at hand. They are reasons to have confidence in the High Court, in the power of reason and rule of law over ideology and chaos, and warrant gratitude.
First, having been part of a small group who spent an hour several years ago talking law and life with Justice Thomas in his chambers, and having separately worked with his wife on the US House Oversight Committee in the 1990s, my attestation to you – the reader – is that these are principled, thoughtful, and kind people – who have had to learn the art of keeping those values near despite political attacks.
Now more than 25 years ago, agenda-driven Democrats – including then-Senator and Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden – had it in for Clarence Thomas. The Democrats in control of the committee that confirms Supreme Court Justices aimed to keep him from the High Court, knowing he was a danger to judicial activism.
Thomas was then – and has been for a quarter century – a staunch, intellectually rigorous, non-political strict constructionist, or constitutionalist. He pulls no punches to accommodate non-legal influences, is smart, and as Biden and his cohort in that set of awful hearings Ted Kennedy thought, persuasive.
He is also black, and in many ways represents the reality Democrats hate to see, that intellectual fortitude, curiosity, depth, and unwavering adherence to principle, America’s promise, and faith – are not about skin color, which should bar no one from realizing the American Dream.
In time, Thomas – showing remarkable stick-to-it-ness, suffering indignities seldom then inflicted on a nominee – taught a timeless lesson, that professionalism, commitment to the law, courage and faith under fire is also part of what makes a conservative a conservative; he did not run, he held his ground.
Once on the Court, he became a quiet leader. He often writes pathbreaking opinions, and has a depth of case knowledge that extends far back in time to before America’s founding. As a respected scholar, in the spirit of his friend Justice Scalia, Thomas teaches a regular seminar to clerks, bringing them back in time to the Magna Carta, then forward in time so there is context for the trust vested in them, work they do.
So, the man on the Court we call Justice Thomas is the real thing, brilliant, peaceful of heart, unconcerned about politics, dutiful as they come, and also funny. He is someone who immediately offers his heart, and in that way creates a rapport, no need to know anyone’s political views, just a good man.
Second, the reason attacks on this good man continue is because he is so effective. He has penned countless opinions, helped preserve the highest values we have at a nation, those on which we were founded, the core understandings that led to formation of the Bill of Rights, and later amendments.
He is a danger to the left, because he has never been an activist, is honest, earnest, and will not depart from core principles, which stands in contrast to those who allow social or political bias to creep into, or worse define, their jurisprudence. His faith is clear, but his fidelity to the law is what defines him.
Finally, the Democrats do not attack him with substance, but to make his life difficult, to disincentivize his continued service, knowing the 5-4 balance in favor of judicial restraint and a judicially conservative approach legal interpretation.
Their game is simple – they want to do whatever they can to get another seat on the court, and to displace a conservative justice. One wonders if this is also why so much harassment of justices, never before permitted, has been allowed to occur recently.
But in all events, trust these three facts: Justice Thomas is a force in American jurisprudence, a brilliant, kind, and incisive judicial conservative, man of faith and fortitude, in whom we should all be proud. This is why the leftists, in and out of government, would like him to step down. And that is why attacks periodically issue to get him, or some other conservative, to call it a day.
The good news is that, as a matter of human nature and professionalism, conservatives are not given to cut and run, tend not to let fear define or influence them, and believe in duty, God and Country. Thank goodness, for goodness – and for Justice Thomas, an example of fortitude under fire.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman2 for AMAC.