Thirty-two years ago, Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 95th associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The 75-year-old native of Pin Point, Georgia, was nominated by former President George H.W. Bush to succeed Justice Thurgood Marshall – the first African American to serve on the high court.
Thomas was confirmed by the Senate on October 15, 1991, by a vote of 52-48, the narrowest margin in a century, becoming the second African American to serve as a Supreme Court justice.
Since assuming his office on October 23, 1991, Clarence Thomas has become widely regarded as one of the most stalwart constitutionalist and originalist justices on court. Thomas is now the longest serving living justice on the Supreme Court.
Thomas’ personal story of growing up in abject poverty in the racially segregated South – being raised primarily by his grandparents – to becoming a Supreme Court justice is as remarkable as it is American.
Thomas is a devout Catholic; he studied to become a priest before entering law school. He’s known to attend daily mass before heading to work, saying it gives him “the strength to do what I have to do every day.”
Day in and day out, Clarence Thomas has been – by far – one of the court’s most consistent defenders of the Constitution. In my humble opinion, Thomas is the single greatest living American.
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In his 32 years on the high court, Thomas has authored far too many important and eloquently written opinions to mention them all here. But to honor Justice Thomas’ remarkable legacy, here is just a sampling of his work.
Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College
On June 29, 2023, Justice Thomas joined a 6-3 majority opinion ruling that affirmative action (race-based college admissions policies) violate the U.S. Constitution.
Twenty years earlier, Justice Clarence Thomas had dissented from a ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger that had upheld affirmative action policies. In that opinion, the court upheld affirmative action, but argued that racially based college admissions programs would no longer be necessary in 25 years.
Twenty years later, Justice Thomas has remained on the court long enough to see that prophecy fulfilled.
In the court’s June 29, 2023, ruling, Justice Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion,
I have repeatedly stated that Grutter was wrongly decided and should be overruled. Today, and despite a lengthy interregnum, the Constitution prevails.
The great failure of this country was slavery and its progeny. …
The Court’s opinion rightly makes clear that Grutter is, for all intents and purposes, overruled. And it sees the universities’ admissions policies for what they are: rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in their entering classes. Those policies fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our Nation’s equality ideal. In short, they are plainly – and boldly – unconstitutional.
While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles so clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States: that all men are created equal, are equal citizens, and must be treated equally before the law.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
On June 24, 2023, Justice Thomas joined a five-justice majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, holding that the Constitution does not convey a right to an abortion.
In writing a separate concurring opinion, Thomas also called for the elimination of Substantive Due Process – a jurisprudential doctrine invented by the Supreme Court that claims the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects certain “rights.”
The court has used Substantive Due Process to concoct constitutional rights to slavery, contraceptives, abortion, and same-sex marriage, among others.
I join the opinion of the Court because it correctly holds that there is no constitutional right to abortion. …
The harm caused by this Court’s forays into substantive due process remains immeasurable. … Substantive due process conflicts with that textual command and has harmed our country in many ways. Accordingly, we should eliminate it from our jurisprudence at the earliest opportunity.
Stenberg v. Carhart
On June 29, 2000, in one of the Supreme Court’s worst rulings, the high court struck down a Nebraska law that made “partial-birth abortions” (an abortion in which a baby is partially delivered prior to being killed) illegal.
In a strongly worded dissent from the court’s decision, Thomas wrote,
Today, the Court inexplicably holds that the States cannot constitutionally prohibit a method of abortion that millions find hard to distinguish from infanticide and that the Court hesitates even to describe.
In the almost 30 years since Roe, this Court has never described the various methods of aborting a second- or third-trimester fetus.
Thomas proceeded to do so,
The most widely used method of abortion during this stage of pregnancy is so gruesome that its use can be traumatic even for the physicians and medical staff who perform it. …
The D&E procedure requires the physician to dilate the woman’s cervix and then extract the fetus from her uterus with forceps. Because of the fetus’ size at this stage, the physician generally removes the fetus by dismembering the fetus one piece at a time. The doctor grabs a fetal extremity, such as an arm or a leg, with forceps and ‘pulls it through the cervical os … tearing … fetal parts from the body … by means of traction.’ …
When all of the fetus’ limbs have been removed and only the head is left in utero, the physician will then collapse the skull and pull it through the cervical canal.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade led to the loss of 60+ million preborn babies. Justice Thomas made sure the court – and the nation – knew what happened during some of those late-term abortions.
Praise God, the Supreme Court later upheld a federal ban on partial-birth abortion in Gonzales v. Carhart in 2007.
The Daily Citizen wishes to congratulate Justice Thomas on his 32 years on the Supreme Court.
His wisdom, fortitude, courage, and insight are unparalleled. Our nation is greatly in his debt.
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LifeNews Note: Zachary Mettler works as a staff writer and communications liaison for The Daily Citizen at Focus on the Family. In his role, he writes about current political issues, U.S. history, political philosophy, and culture. Mettler earned his Bachelor’s degree from William Jessup University and is an alumnus of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. In addition to The Daily Citizen, his written pieces have appeared in The Daily Signal, LifeNews, The Colorado Independent, and The Millennial Review. In his free time, Mettler enjoys reading, running, hiking, backpacking, and walking his dog.