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Clarence Thomas says in new book he had ‘no idea why or how’ he got nominated for SCOTUS

Clarence Thomas, the conservative Supreme Court justice, said in interviews published in a new book that he wasn’t sure why he was nominated for the Supreme Court — and “celebrated not being nominated” when he thought President George HW Bush had him. leave.

“I have no idea why or how I was nominated,” Thomas said according to the book Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in his own wordswhich came out earlier this month.

Thomas also admitted that he “hadn’t thought about the abortion issue” leading up to his 1991 hearings.

Thomas was one of six conservative Supreme Court justices to bring down Roe v. Wade with Friday’s Dobbs decision. †

Created Equal was an accompanying project to a documentary about Thomas released in 2020 by filmmaker Michael Pack, who headed the US Agency for Global Media under former President Donald Trump, and Mark Paoletta, a lawyer who worked alongside Thomas during his confirmation.

Pack interviewed Thomas for over 30 hours between November 2017 and March 2018 – which became the basis for the film and then the book.

Thomas made it clear to Pack that he wasn’t excited to be nominated in court — nor had he given much thought to the abortion issue that would come up in his confirmation hearings.

Clarence Thomas, the conservative Supreme Court justice, said in interviews published in a new book that he wasn't sure why he was nominated for the Supreme Court and

Clarence Thomas, the conservative Supreme Court justice, said in interviews published in a new book that he wasn’t sure why he was nominated for the Supreme Court and “celebrated not being nominated” when he thought President George HW Bush passed him by.

Created Equal was an accompanying project to a 2020 documentary of the same name by filmmaker Michael Pack.  Mark Paoletta, a lawyer who worked with Thomas during his confirmation, edited the tome together

Created Equal was an accompanying project to a 2020 documentary of the same name by filmmaker Michael Pack. Mark Paoletta, a lawyer who worked with Thomas during his confirmation, edited the tome together

Thomas told Pack that he received a call one afternoon from White House counsel, C. Boyden Gray, that Judge Thurgood Marshall was announcing his retirement from court in 1991.

Marshall was the first black Supreme Court justice.

“All I know is Judge Marshall retired, and it was a shock,” Thomas recalled. “My reaction was, ‘Oh no, this is going to be bad. People are going to start rumoring that I’m one of the nominees.'”

Gray had attorney Mark Paoletta, the book’s co-editor, take Thomas to the Justice Department’s situation room, where he was asked which judge his views most closely matched — Judge Antonin Scalia, Thomas said — and whether he was harassed because they were in an interracial marriage.

“And I only said liberals and bigots, and that was about it,” Thomas said.

The next day, he went to the White House “where I’ve been sitting most of the morning and they haven’t decided anything.”

“And I was told that if they didn’t decide before the weekend, it wouldn’t be me,” Thomas said. “That’s what I thought, but maybe I misunderstood.”

“Saturday morning came, I wasn’t nominated, and I said, ‘Finally free,'” he said. “I had a new Corvette and Virginia and I drove to Annapolis and celebrated not being nominated,” Thomas said, referring to his wife Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. Ginni Thomas has come under scrutiny for her role in pushing the “big lie” ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

On Sunday, however, he received a call from Bush, who invited him to the compound at Kennebunkport the next day.

During the flight Monday, Thomas said he became “a little suspicious” when some high-profile White House officials were on his plane, leaving him wondering if there were any other contenders.

“Who’s riding with the other people?” he said he was wondering.

It was First Lady Barbara Bush who accidentally informed Thomas that he had gotten the job and “congratulated” him before her husband formally made the offer.

‘And she said ‘congratulations,’ and then my heart sank. And she said, “Oh, I think I let the cat out of the bag,” he recalled.

Thomas noted that during his confirmation in 1991, the one area Bush White House officials wouldn’t ask him about was abortion.

“They definitely didn’t want to talk to me about Roe v. Wade. They didn’t want to talk about abortion because they knew I would be asked about it one day. And they wanted me to say I didn’t discuss it with them,” Thomas recalls.

During the hearings, Democratic senators urged Thomas to record where he would decide on abortion — something he wouldn’t do.

“One, I haven’t done that now,” he said. “And two, I just read all those things again.”

Thomas pointed out that when he took constitutional law in law school, it was in 1972 — a year before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

“I was more interested in the race issues. I was more interested in finishing law school. I was more interested in passing the bar exam. My life was all about survival. I couldn’t pay my rent. I couldn’t pay back my student loans,” Thomas said. “I had all those other things going on that you were navigating, these worlds that you are navigating.”

Sexual harassment allegations against a former colleague, Anita Hill, shook Thomas’s hearings, but he was still confirmed by the US Senate by a narrow vote of 52-48, with 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats in favor. voted.

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