: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Interviewed on 60 Minutes

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas granted an extraordinary interview to 60 Minutes which aired earlier tonight. You can watch the interview in its entirety on the CBS News Website using the links below.

60 Minutes: Clarence Thomas: The Justice Nobody Knows

The portrait that emerged is an interesting one. Justice Thomas has just published My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir that comes out tomorrow. The figure of his grandfather Myers Anderson looms large over Thomas, his life and even his jurisprudence. It’s difficult not to see in his description of his grandfather as hard though not a harsh man, who stood on principle in ways seen by others as severe, as a reflection of Thomas’ character that comes through in his decisions. He discussed the roots of his transformation from aspiring Catholic priest to radical democratic student to a conservative lawyer and Justice.

Having read many of his decisions on affirmative action it’s very interesting to hear him describe his personal experience at Yale Law School, where he felt others had a perception of him as having been admitted because of his race. He speculates that his difficulty finding a job following graduation was due to the perception of two degrees created by the affirmative action regime – one for white students who ‘earned it’ and another, lesser degree for minorities. “I have still a 15 cents sticker on the frame that my law degree is in,” Thomas says. “It’s tainted. So I just leave it in the basement.”

My continued fascination with Justice Thomas is piqued all the more. See my previous posts Not So Long Ago… Race in Law School, Clarence Thomas – Enigma or Man?, and Inscrutable.

Journalist Jan Crawford Greenburg discusses the perception of Justice Thomas in the media.


I’ve mentioned the law review write on here, here and here, and am happy to report that my attempt was successful. The casenote concerned Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 127 S. Ct. 2162 (2007). I’m quite sick of thinking about this case, to be honest, but it occurred to me today that being a Supreme Court plaintiff must be a bit like having a fantastically rare disease – you’re interesting to people for all the wrong reasons. Your plight is rehashed a thousand times over by people less interested in your welfare than in the legal consequences you stand for and nine of the most powerful people in the nation just decided your fate for reasons that are barely comprehensible to the average person. So it was kind of nice to hear from Lilly Ledbetter herself. (thanks for the link, Ko!)

Jon Stewart Spins the Justice Wheel for an Update on Supreme Court Decisions


Clarence Thomas – Enigma or Man?

Though I’m not normally prone to empathize with Clarence Thomas but having psychological profiles like this written about a personwould be enough to drive me into silence at oral argument. Justice Thomas, it seems to me, embodies the rejection of the sloppy social determinism that so many of his commentators seem desperate to apply to him.

In their provocative new book, “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas,” two Washington Post journalists, Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, ponder Justice Thomas’s extraordinary silence, and many other puzzles. They offer a wealth of insight, but they have no answer to the central enigma he poses: why the justice who has faced the greatest hardships regularly rules for the powerful over the weak, and has a legal philosophy notable for its indifference to suffering.

To which he might well answer ‘because he can.’


Why Clarence Thomas continues to fascinate me – Justice Thomas’s Life A Tangle of Poverty, Privilege and Race.

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