In a new documentary, Justice Clarence Thomas reveals the way his color was used against him in his confirmation process. The then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) oversaw the committee pushing to have him removed at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Thomas said he was considered the “wrong’ African-American for the job.
Thomas’s remarks were made in a yet to be released documentary titled, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” of which ABC had a preview viewing.
The film was produced after 22 hours of interviews with Thomas and is due for release next year.
In the film, Thomas described his feelings regarding the treatment he received during the confirmation hearings.
“I felt as though in my life I had been looking at the wrong people as the people who would be problematic toward me,” Thomas said. “We were told that, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be the bigot in the pickup truck; it’s gonna be the Klansmen; it’s gonna be the rural sheriff.'” he said, reported ABC.
“But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately the biggest impediment was the modern-day liberal,” he added. “They were the ones who would discount all those things because they have one issue or because they have the power to caricature you.”
Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Commission at that time, in 1991, when Thomas was wrongly accused of sexual misconduct by his assistant Anita Hill.
“Do I have like stupid written on the back of my shirt? I mean, come on. We know what this is all about,” Thomas said about the confirmation process. “People should just tell the truth, ‘This is the wrong black guy; he has to be destroyed.’ Just say it. Then now we’re at least honest with each other.”
He went on to argue, “The idea was to get rid of me.”
“And then after I was there, it was to undermine me,” he added.
Although Thomas does not directly reference Joe Biden in the documentary, when asked about Biden’s questioning of him regarding his view on “natural Law” Thomas said, “I have no idea what he was talking about.”
“I understood what he was trying to do. I didn’t really appreciate it,” he said. “Natural law was nothing more than a way of tricking me into talking about abortion.”
Bill Russo, Biden’s deputy communications director, told ABC News that it was “no surprise that Justice Thomas does not have a positive view of him.”
“Then-Senator Biden voted against Clarence Thomas in the Senate Judiciary Committee, he argued against him on the Senate floor, and he voted against his confirmation to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court,” Russo said.
Thomas’s position on the Supreme Court was confirmed in October 1991 after a 52-48 vote in the Senate in his favor. His position was confirmed, and he is now the most senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Many groups strongly opposed Thomas because of his conservative views.
In the film’s trailer, Thomas speaks of the “different sets” of standards conservative African Americans are subjected to. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, as a black conservative, is also treated differently, said Thomas.
“There’s different sets of rules for different people. If you criticize a black person who’s more liberal, you’re a racist,” he said. “Whereas you can do whatever to me, or to now Ben Carson, and that’s fine because you’re not really black because you’re not doing what we expect black people to do.”
At the time of his confirmation process, Thomas told the Judiciary Committee the process they were putting him through was just a “travesty.”
“As a black American, as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves … and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you — you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree,” he said.