Court Battles

Clarence Thomas blasts his Biden-led confirmation hearings: ‘The idea was to get rid of me’

Justice Clarence Thomas is issuing a strong condemnation of the handling of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which were overseen by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), saying they were designed to “get rid of me” because he was viewed as the “wrong” African-American for the position. 

Thomas makes the remarks in a soon-to-be-released documentary, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” according to a Thursday report from ABC News, which was granted an advance look at the film. It is set to be released in theaters early next year. 

In the documentary, Thomas, the longest-serving Justice on the high court, opens up about how he felt he was treated amid his contentious confirmation process in 1991. 

“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.'”

“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.”

ABC News reports that the film shines a spotlight on Biden’s presence amid the confirmation process.

Biden, now a leading 2020 presidential candidate, chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. In recent years, the former vice president has faced renewed scrutiny over how he treated Anita Hill, the woman who came forward with accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas.

Hill testified publicly before the Judiciary panel that Thomas made unwanted sexual advances towards her, claims he fiercely denies. 

“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 that “the idea was to get rid of me.”

“And then after I was there, it was to undermine me,” he added. 

Thomas reportedly never directly references Biden in the film. After being asked about the former senator’s questioning on Thomas’s views of natural law, the justice responded, “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, said in a statement to 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 was confirmed to the Supreme Court in October 1991 following a 52-48 vote in the upper chamber.  

The new film also features Thomas’s remarks on a range of issues. The filmmakers reportedly conducted more than 22 hours worth of interviews with the justice during a six-month time period in 2018. 

In a trailer for the film, Thomas objects to the “different sets” of standards to which he claims conservative African Americans are held. 

“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.”

Tags Anita Hill Ben Carson Clarence Thomas Joe Biden

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