Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words (2020) - full transcript

A controversial figure, loved by some, reviled by others, few know much more than a few headlines and the recollections of his contentious confirmation battle with Anita Hill. A story truly and fully, without cover-ups or distortions. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
are we keeping the glasses on or off?

CAMERAMAN: The only issue
is that because they're bifocals

there's a line going
through his eyes.

MICHAEL: Do you need them on,
Justice Thomas?


I wear them, that's my normal...

I normally have glasses on.

Not on the cover of your book.

CLARENCE: Well, except for the
cover of my book I normally wear...


MICHAEL: Justice Thomas,
how did you decide you wanted

to become a lawyer?

You look around society and you see,
its laws.

Laws affect everybody.

If you're poor,
and you look at people

like my grandfather,

I think of when he
came home one day,

and he was very upset,

and he was taking a drink.

He never took a drink
in the middle of the day.

CLARENCE: Well what had happened was,
he was driving the oil truck,

a police officer stops him

for having too many clothes on,

and that's ridiculous.

He has no way
of challenging that.

So the law, he ran into the law

and he always
was afraid of that.

You couldn't walk
across certain parks;

you couldn't go
to certain schools;

people's property being taken;
people taking advantage of him

because they could say
"The law did this" or "Did that."

So I decided I was
going to go to law school.

Senator BIDEN: Judge Thomas,
do you solemnly swear to tell the truth,

the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
so help you God?

Judge THOMAS: I do.

Senator BIDEN: Please be seated.

Let me look a little bit
from your life and history,

you are somewhat an enigma.

You have gone through
many changes in your life.

Which brings us to the question:

what is the real
Clarence Thomas like?

Judge THOMAS: The person
you see is Clarence Thomas.

I don't know that I would
call myself an enigma.

I am just simply different from
what people painted me to be.

My earliest memories are
those of Pin Point, Georgia,

a life far removed in space
and time from this room,

this day and this moment.

♪ Moon river ♪

♪ Wider than a mile ♪

♪ I'm crossing you in style ♪

♪ Someday ♪

♪ Oh ♪

CLARENCE: We were isolated.

It was a community.

You could see
the river from there.

You hear of the song Moon River,

Johnny Mercer's from Savannah.

♪ Wherever you're goin', ♪

♪ I'm goin' ♪

CLARENCE: I am descended
from the west African slaves

who lived on the Barrier
Islands and in the low country

of Georgia, South Carolina
and coastal northern Florida.

In Georgia my people
were called Geechees,

in South Carolina, Gullahs.

It was just a distinctive culture,
it was West African.

It had a mixture of English,
and other words,

with kind of a diction
that was somewhat

difficult to understand.

(Geechee music)


I know when I first went
down to Pin Point I said

"Clarence, I can't understand
a word that they just said"

because they talk in a dialect.

So I just try to
listen and smile.

CLARENCE: I was born at home,
right on Shipyard Creek in 1948.

My mother always I was too stubborn to cry,
and I guess

that was a sort of indication of
the kind of person I would be.

A middle child.

My mother had all of us,
we think, before she was 20.

And then she and my father
separated when I was a toddler.

So I would have no
early memories of him.

I have memories of other family members,
but he wasn't there.

He wasn't among
the family members.


the men raked oysters

during the winter,
and caught crabs,

and fish in the
spring and summer.

Their boats,
which were called bateaus,

could be heard far
away in the marshes.

They would slowly
emerge from the labyrinths

of surrounding creeks
and pull up to the dock

where the day's
haul was unloaded.

The women picked crab; people
like my mother, and my relatives

did that at the crab factory.

And they also shucked
oysters... All of which is hard work.

Well, when they were gone,
we were on our own.

We were off on our adventures.


We would catch
minnows in the creek.

We would walk along
the water's edge,

throwing oyster shells.

Most people didn't
have store-bought toys.

So, you had lots of old
tires that had gone bad.

If you go back to the movie,
To Kill a Mockingbird...

JEM FINCH: You Ready?

SCOUT FINCH: Uh-huh, let her go.

CLARENCE: Scout, the young girl,

when she is pushed into Boo Radley's yard,
she's in a tire.

I have no idea how kids
today can have any idea

what they were doing
with her inside a tire.

We always did that.

I remember years later reading Huck Finn,
and Tom Sawyer,

and wondering what
the fuss was about.

We had done a
lot of those things.

One day I came home someone
said there had been a fire.

And we get there,
and this little shack that we had

all been living in was
just ashes and twisted tin.

Everything that you ever
knew in life is just there,

I mean it's smoldering.


CLARENCE: When I was
a boy Savannah was hell.

My mother lived in one
room in an old tenement

with an outdoor bathroom.

That is the worst
place I've ever lived.

And so,
you had the contrast between rural poverty,

which is what we had in Pin Point,
which was very livable.

And then you had urban squalor,
and that was horrible.

Whenever you flushed the toilet,
or someone else flushed,

it didn't actually go
in the sewer system.

It went in somebody else's yard.

My all encompassing
word is gross,

I mean it was putrid.

It was the smell of raw sewage.

There were these boards,
people would make these sort of

makeshift paths to
get across the just,

the gross wetness
in the back yard.

Savannah is still
a segregated city.


One of the major parks downtown
is a rectangle, Forsyth Park.

You were never allowed to
walk to the interior of that park.

That's how I figured out
the word "circumnavigate."

You would walk around.

You could not go
across the park.


I was supposed to go to
school in the afternoons

and my mother wasn't
there to make me go,

because she had to go to work,
so I wandered

the streets by myself.

I was six.


You were hungry,
and didn't know when you'd eat, and cold,

and didn't know when
you'd be warm again.

My mother had difficulty
with two little boys

and working as a maid.

So she asked my
grandparents for help.

And my grandmother
suggested that she let...

Her raise these two boys.

And one day,
one Saturday morning we w..., we woke up,

and my mother said "Put all
your things in the grocery bag."

And remember the paper
grocery bags in those days,

and my brother took one,
and neither one was full.

But we, all of our items,
just imagine everything you have

in less than a paper bag.

we took our grocery bag each,

and walked the couple
of blocks from Henry Lane,

to East Thirty-Second Street.


That was the longest,
and most significant journey

I ever made,
because it changed my entire life.


My grandfather was this myth.

He was very stern.

And he sat us there
at the kitchen table,

and he said "Boys,
the damn vacation is over."

And he said from then
on it was going to be

"Rules and regulations"
and "Manners and behavior."

Oh my goodness, and he meant it,
and he just explained what

the rules were: my
grandmother was always right,

that he was in charge.

He made it very clear that it
was by grace that we were there

- his grace.

And the door in 1955 when
we went to live with him

was swinging open, inward,
and if we didn't behave ourselves

there'd be a day when
it would swing outward

and we'd be asked to leave.

They lived in this new house,
and it was beautiful.

For us,
it could have been a palace.

We had never been in
a house with a bathtub,

beautiful white
porcelain toilet.

My brother and I,
one of our activities was to flush

that toilet every time
we had a chance.

I mean we would walk
by and flush the toilet.

And my grandfather said,
he would chastise us and said you,

as he would say "You're
runnin' up my damn water bill."

Beautiful, as we used to say back then,
modern kitchen

with a refrigerator,
etc. And lots of food.

And my grandmother would
just lavish you with those things.

My grandmother was
as sweet as she could be

she would always be saintly.

By the time we went to
live with my grandfather

he was delivering fuel oil.

The rule was: we got
out of school at 2:30;

you had to be home,
dressed, and ready to be

on the oil truck by 3:00.


When you rode with him,
he was the professor.

You could not
initiate a conversation,

so you were constantly
getting this one-way input.

He thought that we were destined
to have to work for everything

because of what happened
in the Garden of Eden,

and because of our fallen
nature; we would have to earn

everything by the
sweat of our brow

- that was biblical.

And we would have to work
from sun to sun... biblical.

The philosophy of life that he
had came from biblical sources.

On Christmas Day 1957,
we went to the place where

he had grown up,
which we called the farm.


The 60 acres had been passed
down undivided from generation to

generation as was customary
with land owned by Southern blacks.


And every summer
after that we farmed.

He thought that we needed to
be kept busy during the summer.

And he didn't want us around
our no good friends in the city,

and "That riff raff."

He said idle hands were
the devil's workshop.

Your time is dominated by labor

and there's a lot of it,
from sun to sun.

He started plowing with
Cousin Jack's horse, Lizzie,

which was a very
spirited animal,

and we would go
running behind them.

We cut down trees,
and he would always do it manually,

you didn't use a chainsaw,
you used a cross-cut saw.

It seems like everything
was made to be doubly hard.

You're a little kid you
say you can't do it.

And he would just say over and

"Old man can't is dead,
I helped bury him".

building a fence line.

You had to learn how
to stretch barbed wire.

If you did something stupid he
would say to you "You know what?

If I could cultivate your head
down to the size of your brain,

a peanut hull would
make you a sun hat."

Now that's not
exactly a compliment.

to learn how to gut fish.

You don't want to be there
and up to your eyebrow in scales

and fish guts, and the smell.

And then the accompaniments: the flies,
the gnats,

the mosquitos etc.

And you'd say would
you want to give up.

And he said,
"You can give out but you can't give up."

My grandmother would say
like "You should give them

a compliment or do this."

And he said "No,
that's their job to do it right."

The family farm and
our unheated oil truck

became my most
important classrooms,

the schools in which my
grandfather passed on the wisdom

he had acquired as an
ill-educated modestly successful

black man in the deep south.

My grandfather understood that
education was the key because

he didn't have it,
and that's what held him back.

And he said that he went
to third grade but school

was three months out of the
year because you had to work.

he read the Bible?

He could he could make
out certain words in the Bible.

When he got a portion of it,
like most of the,

of the people I knew,
most were uneducated,

and most were
functionally illiterate,

and many were
totally illiterate.

They would get a part of the
Bible that they would memorize

or that they knew the story
and that would become apart

of their lexicon.

CLARENCE: He had gone
his own way and converted

to Roman Catholicism in 1949.

It followed that Catholic
schools had to be

better than public schools so
he sent my brother and me to one.

Remember now I
am seven years old.

My brother is six and he
says to us "You are going to go

to school every day,
and if you are sick,

you are still going,
and if you die, you will go.

I will take your body for
three days and make sure

you're not faking",
and he meant it.

The thing about it is,
it's one thing if somebody says it,

and you think
they're exaggerating.

He wasn't that kind of guy.


CLARENCE: The Catholic
schools were very orderly.

My brother used to say
"When you walked in there

you could hear a gnat
tiptoeing across cotton."


It was segregated.

The nuns didn't much
appreciate the fact that blacks

were treated that way.

They were mostly Irish nuns,
and they were outspoken too.

Oh God, I love it.

They were on our
side from day one.


You knew they loved you.

And when somebody,
when you think somebody loves you

and deeply cares about your interests,

they can get you
to do hard things.

Sister Mary Virgilius,
my eighth-grade teacher,

when she saw my entrance
exam scores to high school,

she looks me in the eye in 1962
and says "You lazy thing you."

In other words,
I was underachieving.

It was actually accurate,
and I've never forgotten it.

Most dependable altar boys,
I had also been thinking about

the possibility of
becoming a priest.

A few months shy of my
16th birthday I decided

I wanted to enter
St. John Vianney,

the diocesan minor seminary,
to prepare for the priesthood.

I told my grandfather who wasn't initially

all that excited,
because it was expensive,

and I remember when he
took me to the front porch,

to have a talk,

and I told him that I
thought I had a vocation,

and it would be great.

And he said, "Well,
if you go you know you can't quit."


I showed up one Sunday
evening with my grandfather.

He drove me there and he dropped me off,
and then he left.

And so I'm there by myself,
and I look around-

I'm the new kid,
so I'm the outsider, and I'm black.

obviously I didn't fit right in.

So, I was like "What the heck?"

MICHAEL: Did you have kind of
a fear of failure, in the early days?

It's a new world in every way.

It's a foreign world.

And the work level,
the work is much more demanding.

So obviously that would
create the sense in you

that I may not be able to,
to live up to the expectation.


Father Coleman said to me
that I would not be considered

the equal of whites
if I didn't learn

how to speak standard English.

As much as it hurt,
there was some truth to it.

I'm some place
between my dialect,

and quote unquote
talking "Southern."

But certainly nothing
close to standard English.

But internally,
I vowed to learn English,

and that no one would be
able to ever say that about me.

CLARENCE: We were doing Robert
Frost and we came across this poem:

"Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I took the one

less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference."


And what I was thinking
was; someplace in my life

the roads had split off,
I was no longer in the world

that was my comfort zone.


I had gone to the seminary,
I had gone to all-white schools

and then it's made
all the difference.

What was that difference?

That, I didn't know.

I was never going to
be a part of that world;

I was never going to be white.

The problem is I could
never go back completely

to the world I came from.

I loved the contemplative life.

I loved Lauds,
which was the morning prayers,

vespers, evening prayers.

I loved the Gregorian chant.

Academically, I did very well.

MICHAEL: So what was the
caption alongside your photo?

CLARENCE: I think it's "Blew that test,
only a 98."

Here was my thinking,
you assume you're going to be

discriminated against,

or at the very least
you're not going to

be treated the
same way as whites.

So, I can't get a 98.

And if I'm going to
force someone to have to

discriminate against me,
then I have to have a hundred.

In other words,
leave them nothing but race,

to force them. It's sort of like,


In those days the
Catholic church

had little to say about racism.

It seemed self-evident
that the treatment of blacks

in America cried out for the
unequivocal condemnation

of a righteous institution.

there may be some tear gassing ahead.

I say to you this afternoon
that I would rather die on the

highways of Alabama than
make a butchery of my conscience.

POLICE: See that they
turn around and disperse.

the church remained silent

and its silence haunted me.

I prayed for guidance
in the presence

of the Blessed Sacrament

but instead of comfort I found

only sorrow and confusion.

One day we were sitting in class,
I don't know,

maybe history class,
or something.

People pass notes from time to time,
so I get a note;

the note said "I like
Martin Luther King",

and then you open up,
it's a small note,

you open up the inside,
and it just had the word, dead.

You have a range of emotions:
disappointment, anger.

You want to lash out.

You want to yell.

In the spring,
when I was walking back into the hall.

Someone was down watching TV,
and he yelled out

from the basement as I
was walking in the dorm.

He said "Martin Luther
King has just been shot."

NEWSCASTER: Dr. King was
standing on the balcony of a second-floor

hotel room tonight when,

according to a companion,
a shot was fired from

across the street.

CLARENCE: And the seminarian
in front of me said "That's good.

I hope the son of a bitch dies."

And that was pretty
much the end of me.

That was it.

Because that was the opposite
of what I thought you said

about a man of God
and what a seminarian,

or the church, should do.

To the extent that I had any ambivalence,
it ended that day.

The priesthood had been my only goal,
and when that went away

it was like I
was in a free fall.

So anyway I, I go home,
and now I face my grandfather.

GINNI THOMAS: As Clarence tells me
about going to his grandfather to tell him

he was quitting the seminary it
probably was the hardest point

of his life, to tell that man
that he was disappointing him.

And I'd like to say,
"It was facing the music",

but it wasn't music.

It was a stony silence almost,
and it was a coldness.

So he took me
to the living room,

and he said that,
as he had promised when we came to live

in '55, 1955,
the door opened inward then,

now it was opening outward.

And I was to leave
his house if I was,

since I had made decisions of a man,
I should live like one.

And he said, I will never forget,
"To-day, this day."

I think I was fumbling around,
I said

"Well, are you still going
to help me with college?"

He said "No. You're a
man. You figure it out."

CLARENCE: Where could
I go? What would I do?

First the seminary,
then the country,

now the only real
home I'd ever known.

All were crashing around me.


My mother had an extra
room in her apartment,

so I went over there.

MICHAEL: I think you've said
it felt like you were reversing

your first walk to
your grandfather's.

Yeah, I was going from 1955,
I had come to

this wonderful place
that was a sanctuary,

and now I was going
back to live with my mother

in her apartment.

NEWSCASTER 1: Washington,
Chicago, Boston, New York, these are

just a few of the cities in
which the negro anguish

over Dr. King's murder expressed
itself in violent destruction.

CLARENCE: Summer of '68
was when you had a lot of the riots,

I mean I thought
everything was coming apart

NEWSCASTER 2: Some buildings
were put to the torch while the looters

stripped block after block
of stores along 7th Street.

CLARENCE: I was getting ready for
work and I was listening to the radio

while I did that.

Senator Kennedy has been shot.

CLARENCE: And they announced
that he had been assassinated.

Well I mean, I dropped to my knees,
I said "it's over."

Bad things were happening.

My grandfather
had kicked me out.

I remember sitting there,
"Kennedy, King, Kennedy."

"KKK" I remember writing it.

Oh my God, there it is!

'KKK'you know.

And it was, it was,
that was probably the last straw.

I mean,
I didn't need a last straw but that was it.

That was the nail
in the coffin for me.

And for the first time in
my life racism and race

explained everything.

It became, sort of,
the substitute religion;

I shoved aside Catholicism
and now it was this,

it was all about race.


Every southern black had known
such moments and felt the rage

that threatened to burn
through the mask of meekness

and submission behind
which we hid our true feelings.

I'm angry with my grandfather.

I'm angry with the church.

If it's a warm day, I'm angry.

If it's a cold day, I'm angry.

I'm sort of flying,
lashing out at every single thing.

Nothing is right.

I'm staying in a room
with a mynah bird,

with my mother,
with her two big dogs.

But the one out, that I do have,

is that I was accepted
to Holy Cross.

I've got one door is open,
only one, and that was Holy Cross.

GINNI THOMAS: When he left the
seminary and found his way to Holy Cross,

he was entering society
that was in turmoil,

and he found his way to
other blacks at Holy Cross

who were very
radical and Marxist.


We're supposed to
be revolutionaries.

So you go to the local army
navy store in Worcester,

and you get army fatigues,
and boots.

Why that was the
dress is beyond me,

but that's the way we dressed.

I wore carpenter's pants,
and bib overalls.

going to shoot the cops who are shooting

our black brothers in
the back in this country!

We were for anybody who was kind of,
in your face.

It could be Stokely Carmichael,
it could be H. Rap Brown.

H RAP BROWN: The brothers in here
maintain that they will stay here until

the university is willing
to talk on their terms.

It could be Angela Davis,
it could be Huey Newton.

So the more radical tended to be
the people we gravitated toward.

Art Martin decided to start a
black student union, and he had

some ideas,
but I could type. I said "I'll type it up."

I had my trusty
Smith-Corona typewriter

with automatic return.

I said "What do you want in it?"

He said "anything
you put in it."

So I typed it up and that
became the Black Student Union.

MICHAEL: When did you first meet
Kathy Ambush, and what was she like?

CLARENCE: I met her
in my sophomore year.

Our politics overlapped,
our politics tended to be

more radical, to the left.

We started dating,
and would date throughout my time

at Holy Cross.

When I would go back home,
the exchanges with my grand father

were really horrible.

Because I'd talk about the revolution,
and I would

be drinking, and would,
and wouldn't comb my hair,

and it was bad.

And he looked at me would
say and he "I didn't raise

you to be like this."

"After all our sacrifices,
this is what you've become."

I thought he was weak.

And he thought I was,
I'd gone up north and become,

as he said,
"one of those damn educated fools."

That I went up north and
they put all that foolishness

in my head.

And my brother who came
from the Vietnam War didn't like it.

CLARENCE: He told me that
all of us should leave the country.

MICHAEL: All you radicals?

All of us should
leave the country.

He had no use for any of us.

CLARENCE: But I went
right back to my radical friends.

In the spring of 1970 I was one

of several Black Students Union
members who went to Boston

to take part in
an anti-war rally.

The organizers of the
rally urged us to march to

Harvard square to
protest the treatment

of America's domestic
political prisoners.

Off we went chanting "Ho,
Ho, Ho Chi Minh."

And demanding
freedom for Angela Davis,

Erica Huggins and anyone
else we could think of.

On the way to Cambridge
we stopped at this liquor store,

and this poor guy, he saw us,
and he gave us the liquor.

I think he gave us some potato chips,
or something, too.

But he said "just go."

And then on the way we consumed
this liquid courage, you know?

Then we proceeded to be back
and forth in Cambridge all night.

I mean there was teargas,
sirens, it was bad.


getting hurt, or anything else,
or what was happening

to other people.

I got back to campus
at 4 in the morning,

horrified by what
I had just done.

I had let myself be
swept up by an angry mob

for no good reason other than,
that I too was angry.

I stopped in front of the chapel
and prayed for the first time

in nearly 2 years.

I asked God,
I said "If you take anger out of my heart,

I'll never hate again."

And that was the
beginning of the slow return

to where I started.



CLARENCE: You know what
Yale was back in the 1970s.

Yale was,
four generations of Groton and, and

Phillips Exeter,
and "my father's grandfather was here."

And there were secret societies,
and all that sort of stuff.

It was a different world,
and it was a world that

I didn't quite understand.

When Jamal was born in February
of my second year of law school.

It woke me up about
the direction that we were

headed in in our country,
and what the prospects

would be for him.

I watched busing on TV,
and busing was a big deal,

remember because it
was so violent in Boston.

NEWSCASTER: By federal court order
a fleet of buses was hired to transport

black students to
all white schools,

and whites to black

Coming to South Boston,
a traditionally conservative

and Irish enclave,
blacks who made

the trip were met with cat calls,
curses and worse.


CLARENCE: I'd been to South Boston,
and I was scared to death

to be over there,

and the schools were as
bad as the schools in Roxbury

where the black kids were from.

So why were you sending
a kid through all that trouble,

to go to school that's as bad,
or worse?

That didn't make
any sense to me.

Someone has a theory,
and then they insert human beings

You know sort of like "have theory,
add people."

You know, it's like, instant,

instant coffee or something.

"Have coffee."

"Add water."

But I knew one thing,
nobody was going to have

some social experiment
and throw my son in there.


In law school, I would describe
myself as a lazy libertarian.

And it was because I
was looking at structures,

or restrictions on me.

Whether there were religious restrictions,
or structures or

strictures on me.

My grandfather and his rules,
society and its rules,

and I guess in a sense,
I was saying

"all of you leave me alone."

In fact, my mantra, when I was
in law school, is "leave me alone."

BOARD MEMBER 1: Mr. Roark,
the commission is yours.

MICHAEL: Were you influenced by

Ayn Rand's
libertarian philosophy?

CLARENCE: You know,
Ayn Rand and Fountainhead started

and this would play
out later in law school.

you to adapt your building like this.

BOARD MEMBER 1: And we must
always compromise with the general taste

Mr. Roark,
you understand that I'm sure.


If you want my work you
must take it as it is or not at all.

CLARENCE: And so, when you
read these books, you say "Yeah, OK.

I'll become a day laborer
rather than be told what to do."

BOARD MEMBER 3: Roark, this is
sheer insanity can't you give in just once?

After all, you have to live.

else? Don't you have to work?

HOWARD ROARK: I'd rather
work as a day laborer if necessary.

CLARENCE: I would rather total
failure in your world than to be told

what to do, or to be made to do
something that I think is wrong.

Yale was the end of the line,
and I made it through.

So, I really wanted my
grandfather to be there to

witness the end, to witness
that the kid that he took in in 1955,

crossed the finish line.


My grandfather did not come.

He always had a reason.

And you know, I think in sort of,
I think he was upset

with me,
I could understand that.

And I certainly had not given
him many good reasons to have

any deep,
and warm or fuzzy feelings about me,

or my graduation.

So, nobody could come.

That was probably more difficult for me,
and embittered me,

more than anything else.

I interviewed for jobs in D.C.,
Atlanta, New York, L.A.,

with anyone,
anywhere who might hire me.

If you were black,
and you were at Yale, the presumptions

were quite different than,
if you were white.

So if you're white,
and you graduated from Yale,

the presumption is what?

It is that you are
really among the best.

On the other hand,
if you're black and you're there,

you didn't really
quite belong there.

So, we'll discount that a bit.

They can say 10 percent,
5 percent whatever.

But the reality was the
discounted approach resulted in

certainly me not
being able to get a job.

MICHAEL: But, eventually,
the Missouri Attorney General,

Jack Danforth,
offered you a job.

the only job offer I got.

It was the quintessential
Hobson's choice.

He went on to promise me "Clarence,
I promise you more

work for less money,
than anybody in the country."

The pay was ten
thousand eight hundred.

The hardest part about
taking the job was,

he was a Republican,

and the idea of
working for a Republican

was repulsive, at best.

I was a registered Democrat.

I was left wing.

As nice as he was,
he was still a Republican.

Putting that nicety aside,
I wound up going.

Cases poured through
there; in those days

the Attorney General's
office handled all the appeals

from the local prosecutors
across the state.

At the time,
my thinking was that all blacks

were political prisoners.

that's sort of the sophisticated level

at which I looked at the
criminal justice system.

I worried about what I would do,
when I got a case

involving black defendants,
and then it happened.

This guy was sitting on a bench,
or something,

and this black woman comes by.

He's black, she's black.

She's got her two, or three,
year old kid in the car

In those days,
most people didn't have air conditioning.

So, the windows are down.

He comes up to the car,
at the stop light,

with an old style can opener,
with a point, puts it to

the kid's neck,
and forces his way in the car,

threatening the kid.

And then he takes her
to a remote location,

rapes and sodomizes her,
and he takes her to another location,

and rapes and
sodomizes her again.

This case was far from unusual.

Blacks were responsible for
almost 80% of violent crimes

committed against blacks,
and killed over 90%

of black murder victims.

For most people that would be obvious,
for me it was one of

these road to
Damascus experiences.

Jack Danforth got elected to the Senate,
and I had already

been there two and a half years,
and I really wanted

to move more toward business.

I had better options now.


It was a fine job but it was
not enough work for me.

I had too much energy.

They spoon-fed the work
and they parceled it out.

I was used to the
work pouring in.

My Grandfather's Son,
I noticed that Monsanto employed a number

of talented blacks who
should have been moving up

the corporate ladder
far more quickly.

MICHAEL: Did you go to speak
to the affirmative action manager?

I confronted him about it and
he pulls out this EEO report

with the numbers on
it; it was one of these

computer print-outs,
as though those are people.

You know he's not talking
about who is getting training,

whose got mentors,
what assignments they have,

who is getting promoted.

He's got this report that he
shows to the labor department,

and that is these statistics.

MICHAEL: The affirmative action manager,
he was African American?

Yes, yeah, mhm.

MICHAEL: He wasn't sympathetic?

He was doing his job and
his reports said he was OK.

MICHAEL: He didn't care that these
other black managers were stalled?

Well I don't know if he cared.

He was doing his job,
and the reports were OK.

That's the most I got.

But I just thought that
we're kidding ourselves.

We're looking at numbers and
the numbers prove everything,

and human beings are
having a lot of difficulties.

feel the golden handcuffs

of a comfortable but
unfulfilling life snapping

shut on my wrists.

I had to quit now
or I never would.

And shortly after that I get
a call from Senator Danforth

to see if I would be
interested in working for him.


anything else I want my candidacy

to unify our country,
to renew the American spirit,

and sense of purpose.

CLARENCE: In the fall
of 1980 I had decided

to vote for Ronald Reagan.

It was a giant step
for a black man.

But I was distressed by the
Democratic party's promises

to legislate the problems
of blacks out of existence.

RONALD REAGAN: I pledge to you to
restore the federal government the capacity

to do the people's work
without dominating their lives.

by contrast was promising

an end to the indiscriminate
social engineering

of the 60's and 70's.

Reagan won in a landslide.

RONALD REAGAN: So help me God.

CHIEF JUSTICE: May I congratulate you,

first time in my adult life

Washington was full
of serious talk about

the possibility of getting
government off the backs

of the poor.

really an historic opportunity.

The economic and social
advancement of blacks

in this country is still
a great unfinished task.

CLARENCE: Tom Sowell
invited me to this conference.

And it would be named
the Fairmont Conference

because it was held at the
Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

It was how do we rethink
the policies toward blacks

in this country in a
new administration?

social problems are worsening,

disintegration of families

CLARENCE: I sat at this table.

And there was a young
black reporter there.

And I knew nothing
about the press.

One question he asked me
was "why was I so interested

in all these social issues?"

And I explained to him
because of the destruction I saw

it doing at home in Savannah.

And as an example of that,
I used my sister and her

kids being objects
of these programs.

Little did I know,
he would write an article about this,

and would turn it into an op-ed.


GINNI THOMAS: The article
by Juan Williams became a point

at which Clarence
became a public persona.


Then license is given to others,
to attack you in whatever

way they want to.

You're not really black
because you're not doing

what you expect
black people to do.

You weren't supposed to oppose
busing; you weren't supposed

to oppose welfare.

MICHAEL: Perhaps it marked a
course for you, Justice Thomas.

I don't know if it marked the course,

but there was no going back.



The Reagan administration
was running into the storm.

Everything the president did,
he was called a racist.

That was from
the very beginning.

I was under constant attack.

We have attempted in the last
2 years to remedy a wide range

NEWSCASTER: Congressman Barney
Frank says he remains skeptical of progress

under the current

RONALD REAGAN: I'm pleased that
this is also an opportunity to acknowledge

CLARENCE: We have a positive record
that we should never back down from.

That point is one that I
cannot stress enough.

Any black misguided
enough to accept a job

in the Reagan administration
was automatically branded

an Uncle Tom.

After I wrote a letter
to the editor of Playboy,

taking issue with a 1986
article by Hodding Carter,

called "Reagan and
the Revival of Racism",

Carter responded as follows:


Not a single civil rights
leader objected to this

nakedly racist language.

MICHAEL: On the personal side,
your marriage was strained

at this point?

It is one of those things
and I just I didn't think

it was going to work.

I think many people
go through that.

But what do you think
was the reason in this case?

I, the, it just wasn't there,
and I think that

you have to be honest with yourself,
and not wait

until it deteriorates,
or you do harm to somebody

who did you no harm.

MICHAEL: I can imagine
how difficult it must have been,

for all three of you.

Yeah, it was... You know,
you live with it.

came to live with me.

His mother thought
it would be best

for me to have
primary responsibility.

Being with him, was my happy place,
being at home with him.


MICHAEL: How did you first hear
that your grandfather was dying?

Well I had been,
I don't know why how we get

so busy in D.C.

I totally regret not going home more,
I just regret it.

CLARENCE: I was with my brother,
and um,

he told me my
grandfather had died.

And that was like,

I think from then on
I was in a bit of a fog.

It was really horrible.

When I got to the funeral,
no sooner did the service begin

than I started to weep
shamelessly and uncontrollably.

Was think of the things I
wish I had done differently.

Why had I spent so much
time arguing with him?

I would never be able to
tell him how right he'd been,

or how much I
admired and loved him.


Shortly after my
grandfather's death

my grandmother had a
stroke while lying in bed.

Within an hour or so,
she was dead.

it was like a trap door,

somebody opened the trap door,
and you fell through it.

And there was no foundation.

And by the time I went
back to Washington,

I had thought a lot
more about things.

I would go outside and
gaze at the Capitol Dome.

I'm asking myself why am I doing this?

There is nothing
positive going on,

and I am getting the
heck beat out of me.

I had to then flip
it around a little bit.

For what will you die?

Is there something in
life that you will die for?

What about your principles?

I decided that the principles

on which I was raised,
my grandparents,

the principles of this country,

were worth dying for.

So what are these principles?

I was interested in,
why this government?

Why this government?

Why not a parliamentary system?

Why not a dictatorship?

When Clarence was at EEOC,
one of the best things,

looking back, that he did

was to hire two speech
writers who worked with him

on reading founding documents,

and understanding
American exceptionalism.

John Marini and Ken Masugi were anchors

for what came out to
be his jurisprudence.

And we would literally spend
hours discussing the founding.

And then they would
give me reading materials,

and we would write articles,
and we would go off to

American Political
Science Association events,

and argue with positivists,
and libertarians.

Oh, gosh.

It was,
now that was a lot of fun,

in the sea of all this stuff.

Thomas Jefferson
had written in 1776

"All men are created equal.

They are endowed
by their creator

with certain
unalienable rights."

That's natural
law in a nutshell.

How then could a country
founded on these principles

have permitted slavery
and segregation to exist?

The answer was that it couldn't,

not without being
untrue to its own ideals.


I was looking for
a way of thinking,

a set of ideals that fundamentally,
at its core,

said slavery is wrong,
at its core...

Which natural
law of course does.


I was scheduled to go up
to New York to a meeting,

and she happened to be there.

met in 1986 at a conference

on how long does America
need race preference policies

to get over slavery.

And his experiences were so resonant,
and so powerful,

and so genuine.

I was struck by him.

CLARENCE: She was a gift
from God that I had prayed for.

And, you know then I was iffy,

because I started
questioning God's package.

You know,
like what are you doing?


You pray for God to
send you someone,

he sends you someone,
and you say "Oh but she's white"

or "she's younger."

He's sent you someone.

What are you talking about?

So that was the end of that,

and she has been a
fabulous gift from God.


George H.W.
Bush's transition team

asked if I would be interested
in becoming a federal judge?

"That's a job for old people",
I said.

I can't see myself spending
the rest of my life as a judge."

They asked me to
talk to Larry Silberman

who was a judge
on the D.C. Circuit.

I said "Larry,
I don't want a lifetime appointment."

He said "Clarence,
it's not slavery.

You can leave if
you don't like it."


But once I got to
the D.C. Circuit,

I really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed the work.

I liked the people.

Virginia worked across
the street from me.

So we commuted in every day

and we really enjoyed
our little house.

We really enjoyed our projects.

We enjoyed our anonymity,
and our time together.

Here at home the search is
on for a Supreme Court nominee

With the retirement of
Justice Thurgood Marshall.

CLARENCE: All I know is
that Justice Marshall retired,

and that was a shock.

So, I went to work on Sunday,

one of my law clerks
was all up in arms,

and he says
"Kennebunkport is on the line."

It was the president telling
me to come up on Monday,

to have lunch to discuss
this Supreme Court thing.

very pleased to announce

that I will nominate
Judge Clarence Thomas

to serve as associate justice of
the United States Supreme Court.

What do you say to critics who
say the only reason you're being

picked is because you're black?

I think a lot worse
things have been said.

I disagree with that,
but I'll have to live with it.

them to the President.


How about that for an answer?

I'll also say I didn't make the selection.

CLARENCE: I mean the
attacks started immediately.

And the things
they accuse you of...

They accuse of everything but murder,
I guess.

NEWSCASTER 1: The Senate Majority Leader,
George Mitchell told reporters

that the nomination
shows that President Bush

is against quotas
for every position

except the Supreme Court.

Thomas praises Louis Farrakhan,

the Black Muslim minister
notorious for his pro-Hitler,

anti-Semitic rhetoric.

strict Catholic education terrifies

abortion rights groups afraid
of more abortion restrictions.

MICHAEL: Did you meet with
the board members of the NAACP?

They said they were
going to be noncommittal,

and were not going to oppose me.

shortly after that they opposed me.

His inconsistent views
on civil rights policies,

which make him an
unpredictable element

in an increasingly radical
and conservative court.

And what I was told by friends,

who gave me a copy of
the AFLCIO's letter to them,

requiring them to oppose me.

What I was told was
that they needed cover

for the women's
groups to oppose me.

So they needed
the NAACP out front.

ACTIVIST: Write your
senators and representatives,

tell them Clarence
Thomas is unacceptable.

He has indicated that
he believes in natural law

and he does not
believe in privacy.

We don't need a lot of
questions to be asked

before we Bork this guy,
we simply immediately Bork him.

CALL ROOM: We want you to
organize pickets of their offices,

follow them from the
airport to their supermarket.

substantial opposition to Clarence Thomas.

His history of supporting
a judicial philosophy

that is really out of step
with the Bill of Rights

and the Constitution.

exactly what's going on here,

and to pretend that it is
for some other reason, stop.

Do I have like "stupid"
written on the back of my shirt?

I mean, come on,
we know what this is all about.

This isn't about what
they say it's about,

so people should
just tell the truth.

This is the wrong black guy.

He has to be destroyed.

Then now at least we
are honest with each other.

[cameras clicking]

GINNI THOMAS: He knew he
was going into the trial of his life

with the Senate run
by the Democrats.

hearing will come to order.

knew it was in the lion's den.

SENATOR BIDEN: Good morning,

Welcome to the blinding lights.

Finding out what you
mean when you say

that you would apply
the natural law philosophy

to the Constitution is,
in my view,

the single most important
task of this committee.

MICHAEL: Senator Biden
was very focused natural law.

Who knows,
I have no idea what he was talking about.

want to make sure we all know

That you and I know, at least,
what we are talking about here.

There is a fervent and
aggressive school of thought

that wishes to see natural law
further inform the Constitution

Argued against by the positivists,
led by Judge Bork.

Now again,
that may be lost on all the people,

you know and I know
what we are talking about.

CLARENCE: I have to be
perfectly honest with you.

You sit there,
and you have no idea

what they are talking about.

All I know is that he was
asking me these questions

Someone may apply it in a way,
like Moore,

who leads him in a direction that is,
quote, "liberal."

You may apply it in a way
that leads you in a direction

that is conservative,
or you may,

like many argue,
not apply it at all.

But it is a fundamental question

that is going to be
almost impossible

for non-lawyers to
grasp in an exchange,

but you know and I know it is a big,
big deal,

CLARENCE: One of the
things you do in hearings

is you have to sit there
and look attentively at people

you know have no idea
what they're talking about.

And it was fine.

I understood what
he was trying to do.

I didn't really appreciate it.

Natural law was nothing
more than a way of tricking me

into talking about abortion,

since many Catholic
moral philosophers

saw the two things
as intimately related.

But my interest in
natural law was different.

subscribe to this moral-code view

of natural law
call into question

a wide range of
personal and family rights,

from reproductive freedom

to each individual's
choice over procreation.


NEWSCASTER: On day two,
Judiciary committee Democrats tried again,

but again couldn't
convince Clarence Thomas

of their need to know
how he would rule

on a woman's
right to an abortion.

REPORTER: How are you?
Are you holding up okay?

NEWSCASTER: Clarence Thomas
signaled he is holding up just fine

as he went before the
Senate Judiciary committee

for a third day.

Abortion, once again,
topped the agenda.

CLARENCE: Most of my
opponents on the judiciary committee

cared about only one thing.

How would I rule
on abortion rights?

You really didn't matter,

and your life didn't matter.

What mattered was
what they wanted,

and what they wanted
was this particular issue.

ever had discussion of Roe v. Wade,

other than in this room?

I guess, Senator, in the fact

that in the most general sense.

If you are asking
me whether or not

I have ever debated
the contents of it,

the answer to that is no,

with all due respect, Judge,

I have some difficulty
with your answer.

You ask us to believe that an
intelligent and outspoken person

like yourself has never
discussed Roe v. Wade

with another human being?

MICHAEL: They refused to believe
you had not discussed Roe v. Wade.

Well you know what?

They should...

They refuse to
believe a lot of things.

It's really... Isn't
that fascinating?

I had to,
I had to have discussed it

because they wanted me
to had to have discussed it.

It goes back to thing
about affirmative action.

You have to believe
in affirmative action,

because we think you ought
to believe in affirmative action.

Well how is that
different from slavery?

How is that different
from segregation?

How is that different
from being told

"you can't walk
across that park"?

you can't think those thoughts."

How is that any different?

I'd prefer to be
excluded from the park

because I can live
my life quite freely

without having
set foot in a park.

But you can't live it freely

without having
your own thoughts.

I felt as though in my life,

I had been looking
at the wrong people,

as the people who would
be problematic toward me.

We were told that "Oh
it's going to be the bigot

in the pickup truck.

It's going be the Klansman.

It's going to be
the rural sheriff."

And I'm not saying
that there weren't

some of those who were bad,

but it turned out,
that through all of that,

ultimately the
biggest impediment,

was the modern day liberal.

That they were the ones who
would discount all those things,

because they have one issue,

or because they can
they have the authority,

the power to caricature you.

Thank you all,
and thank you and your family

We will recess for five minutes.


were just exhausted.

So, we went over just briefly,
and it was out of season

to Cape May,

just to get away from
the Washington area.


We had just gotten back,

and that's when all
heck broke loose.

came from the White House

that we were going to
be visited by the FBI.

MICHAEL: What was that
like when the FBI came?

As soon as they stepped in,
they said

"do you know Anita Hill?"

And then they said "Did
you ever try to go out with her

or did you ever discuss
pornographic stuff with her?"

"No, no way."

And that was,
I said "you got to be kidding me."

And then it's just like,
you're deflated.

You said "This is
where we're going now."

And, so I maybe,
I felt more like Joseph K in The Trial,

that suddenly you're
minding your business,

and you were
arrested one morning.

You're entering
an unknown world.

Well, this obviously isn't
anything of any importance.

Quite honestly,
I can't remember a single offense

that could be
charged against me.

It's obviously a mistake,
something very trivial.

CLARENCE: I have no idea
what I was supposed to have done.

I'm sorry to disappoint
you but I am afraid

that you wont find any
subversive literature

or pornography.

Don't touch those record albums!

AGENT 1: What is this thing?

- My phonograph.
- AGENT 2: Well, what's this?

called back that afternoon,

they said that "This
is uncorroborated.

There are no facts,"

that "We don't think
there's anything to it."

NINA TOTENBERG: In an affidavit
filed with Senate Judiciary committee

law professor Anita Hill

said Thomas began
asking her out socially

and refused to
accept her explanation

that she did not
think it appropriate

to go out with her boss.

The relationship, she said,
became even more strained

when Thomas, in work situations,
began to discuss sex.

It was leaked.

This was a, this was a crime.

This was a criminal
act that did this.

But in any case, it was leaked,
and that changed everything.

REPORTER: Judge, do you think
you are being treated unfairly, sir?

MICHAEL: After the leak the
media just camped out at your house?

CLARENCE: Yeah, they stayed,
and then whenever we left,

there would be a chase car,

and there was a
motorcycle behind us.

you're literally under siege.

NEWSCASTER: The opponents of
Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas

want to delay a vote
on this confirmation

because of charges
of sexual harassment.

In light of these revelations
which we consider to be

very, very serious,

then at the minimum
we need to see a delay,

a delay of this nomination.


Ho! Ho!

Anita Hill yes!

Thomas no!

Several interest groups

including the Women's
Legal Defense Fund

and the National
Organization for Women

are also calling for a delay.

CLARENCE: You worry about,
what can they convince people

that I have done.

You got all these PR firms,
and slick law firms,

I'm just sitting there,
I mean it's my wife and me.

We're like at home,

and we have a couple of prayer
partners who would come over.

they helped us in our home,

read through the Bible,
and put on the armor of God

because it felt like the
demons were loose.

NEWSCASTER: The eroding
support for Thomas finally forced

Republicans to admit a
Tuesday vote would be a bad idea

and there was unanimous
consent to wait until next Tuesday

to allow a full hearing on the
allegations in the meantime.

But Thomas's key backer

delivered an
impassioned prediction

of what a public
hearing would turn into.

it's going to be a field day.

Read all about it!

Tune in tomorrow,

and every day for
the next seven days

to get everything and anything

that anybody wants to say
about Clarence Thomas!

[mantle being struck]

hearing will come to order.

Mr. Chairman, Senator Thurmond,
members of the committee,

I welcome the opportunity
to clear my name today.

The first I learned
of the allegations

by Prof. Anita Hill was on September 25,

when the FBI came to my home
to investigate her allegations.

I was shocked, surprised, hurt,
and enormously saddened.

I have not been the
same since that day.

Let me describe my
relationship with Anita Hill.

In 1981,
after I went to the Department of Education

as an Assistant Secretary
in the Office of Civil Rights,

I hired Anita Hill.

Anita Hill was an
attorney advisor

who worked directly with me.

Anita Hill joined me at EEOC.

our relationship was more distant.

And our contacts less frequent.

Although I did not see Anita
Hill often after she left EEOC,

I did see her on 1
or 2 subsequent visits

to Tulsa,
Oklahoma and on one visit,

I believe she drove
me to the airport.

I find it particularly troubling
that she never raised any hint

that she was
uncomfortable with me.

She did not raise or mention it

when considering
moving with me to EEOC

from the Department of Education

and she never raised it
with me when she left EEOC

and was moving on in her life.

I have not said or done the things

that Anita Hill has alleged.

God has gotten me through
the days since September 25th

and he is my judge.

GINNI THOMAS: I have to tell
you from my perch behind him.

I was just watching the senators
and feeling rage towards them.

And I especially focused
on Senator Kennedy,

and the things that I knew
he had done in his life,

and the nerve of any
of this to come out

to a man like I know and I love.

JUDGE Thomas: Mr. Chairman, I have never,
in all my life, felt such hurt,

such pain, such agony.

My family and I have
been done a grave

and irreparable injustice.

SENATOR BIDEN: Thank you, Judge.

The hearing is in
recess for 5 minutes.

MICHAEL: So, then you left,
and went back home.


Anita Hill testified.

Did you watch that?

CLARENCE: Oh, God, no.

do you swear to tell the whole truth

and nothing but the truth,
so help you, God?



My name is Anita F. Hill,
and I am a professor of law

at the University of Oklahoma.

At the Department of Education

Judge Thomas asked me
to go out socially with him.

I declined the invitation
to go out socially with him.

My working relationship
became even more strained

when Judge Thomas began to
use work situations to discuss sex.

His conversations
were very vivid.

When Senate staff asked
me about these matters,

I felt that I had
a duty to report.

I could not keep silent.

This was a kill-shot.

We could feel it.

they were coming to destroy my husband,

not just discredit him or
differ with his point of view.

This was the kill-shot.

Can you tell me what
incidences occurred,

of the ones you have described to us,
occurred in his office?

Well, I recall specifically that
the incident about the Coke can

occurred in his
office at the EEOC.

what was that incident again?

The incident with
regard to the Coke can,

PROFESSOR HILL: The incident
involved his going to his desk,

getting up from a worktable,
going to his desk,

looking at this can and saying,
"Who put pubic hair on my Coke?"

GINNI THOMAS: I was the one
that tried to watch what was going on

for as long as I could
and it looked bad.

It looked like it
could be credible.

She was painting
a compelling picture

and yet coming up
with different iterations

from what we had been
told her allegations were.

So it was growing.

Someone had worked with her,
or she had found new aspects

of her story that she
was putting out there.

SENATOR BIDEN: Are there any other
incidents that occurred in his office,

with just-in his office, period?

There is... I recall
at least one instance

in his office at the EEOC

where he discussed some
pornographic material,

or he brought up the
substance or the content

of pornographic material.

it is difficult, but for the record,

what substance did he bring
up in this instance, at EEOC,

in his office?

was a reference to an individual

who had a very large penis

and he used the name
that he had referred to

in the pornographic material...

you recall what it was?

Yes, I do.

The name that was referred
to was Long Dong Silver.

GINNI THOMAS: Honestly it was a
nightmare to hear about any of her charges

whether it was the pubic
hair on the Coke can

or Long Dong Silver.

It was all jarring.

It was all so wrong,
it was so shocking.

And I'm sure America
was tuning in to C-SPAN.

And it was horrendous
because it was so untrue.

CLARENCE: Then she told
me what they were saying,

I know that didn't happen",
because I'd never known.

So yeah,
I was tormenting myself,

trying to dig through
my endless memories.

Did I do something?

Did I say something?

Was it a joke?

And when they said whatever it was,
they said...

I said "that didn't happen."

it was the first relief I felt.

Why in God's name,

when he left his position
of power or status

or authority over you,
and you left it in 1983,

why in God's name would you
ever speak to a man like that

the rest of your life?

That is a very good question,

and I am sure that I
cannot answer that

to your satisfaction.

I have suggested that I
was afraid of retaliation,

I was afraid of damage
to my professional life.

It just seems so
incredible to me

that you would not only
have visited with him twice

after that period and
after he was no longer able

to manipulate you
or to destroy you,

that you then not
only visited with him

but took him to the airport,

and then 11 times contacted him.

That part of it is the
most contradictory

and puzzling thing for me.

Adjourned until 9 o'clock.

CLARENCE: Senator Danforth
called me at home, after that testimony

and they wanted me
to testify that night,

to not let the testimony,
her testimony be the new-

fill up the news cycle.

NEWSCASTER: This afternoon
Mr. Bush left for Camp David,

but you would have to describe
the mood here as resigned,

I think, and somber,
not at all sure

that Clarence Thomas
is going to survive this.

CLARENCE: So, I reluctantly
agreed to come back at 8 o'clock.

GINNI THOMAS: He may have
thought it was necessary to go back

in front of the Senate,

but honestly from
his wife's point of view

watching the man who is my loved,
beloved husband,

I didn't know he had it
within him to keep going.

So, I get to Jack,
Senator Danforth's office

and we sit,
and we begin to discuss that,

you know what's ahead.

So, I was exhausted,

and I asked him to
get rid of all the people.

He turned off the lights

and I just laid
down on the couch,

and just closed my eyes.

Surrounded by the
darkness of early evening

drifting in the liminal space
between sleep and waking.

I must have been thinking
of "To Kill a Mockingbird"

in which Atticus Finch,
a small-town southern lawyer,

defends Tom Robinson

a black man on trial for
the rape of a white woman.

Gentlemen of the jury,
have you reached a verdict?

CLARENCE: I had lived my
whole life knowing that Tom's fate

might be mine.

Strip away the fancy talk

and you were left
with the same old story.

You can't trust black
men around women.

JURY: We find the
defendant guilty as charged.

CLARENCE: This one may be a big
city judge with a law degree from Yale

but when you get
right down to it,

he's just like the rest of them.

One of the things
that came to mind

after I'd rested a little bit,

I said "Jack,
this is a high-tech lynching"

and he said "If that's what you think,
say it."

And so,
I wrote that on a legal pad,

and he just exhorted me to go
in the name of the Holy Ghost.

[crowd applauding]

GINNI THOMAS: There were conservative
groups who were marshalling activists

from around the
country to come in

and line the hallways.

[crowd shouting and cheering]

And when we came out
of Senator Danforth's office,

and we were going
down the hallway,

and all these people were clapping,
and very excited.

[crowd cheering]

And he said to me
"who are those people?"

And I said "I think
they're angels."

[mantle struck]

committee will please come to order.

JUDGE THOMAS: Senator, I would
like to start by saying unequivocally,

uncategorically that I deny
each and every single allegation

against me today

that suggested in any way

that I had conversations
of a sexual nature

or about pornographic
material with Anita Hill.

That I ever
attempted to date her.

That I ever had any
personal sexual interest in her,

or that I in any way
ever harassed her.

This is a circus.

It is a national disgrace.

And from my standpoint,
as a black American,

as far as I am concerned,
it is a high-tech lynching

for uppity-blacks who in any
way deign to think for themselves,

to do for themselves,
to have different ideas,

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.

GINNI THOMAS: When Clarence
gave the high-tech lynching speech,

I knew how little of my husband
was sitting in front of me.

And I knew that God was with him

because I knew he wasn't
doing that on his own,

because I knew how
weak he was at that point.

And, Judge,
what is your response

to those specific charges again?

my response is that I categorically,

unequivocally deny them.


They did not occur.

I wasn't harmed by the Klan,

I wasn't harmed by
the Knights of Camelia,

I wasn't harmed
by the Aryan race,

I wasn't harmed
by a racist group,

I was harmed by this process,

this process which
accommodated these attacks on me.

I would have preferred
an assassin's bullet

to this kind of living hell

that they have put me
and my family through.

haven't mentioned your grandfather.

I would like to have you
tell me what you think advice,

he would give to you if he
were advising you today.

getting hammered in the public

and getting criticized,
and I complained to him,

he told me to stand
up for what I believe in.

That is what he
would tell me today.

Not to quit, not to turn tail,

not to cry "uncle,"

and not to give
up until I am dead.

He had another statement.

"Give out but don't give up."

That is what he would say to me.

like you to describe now,

for this gathering,

what it is like to be accused
of sexual harassment.

And let me add the word,
unjustly accused

of sexual harassment.

The day I received a
phone call on Saturday night,

last Saturday night, about 7:30

and told that this was going
to be in the press, I had-I died.

The person you knew,
whether you voted for me

or against me...


In my view,
that is an injustice.

you are here though.

Some people have
been spreading the rumor

that perhaps you
are going to withdraw.

What's Clarence
Thomas going to do?

rather die than withdraw.

If they are going to kill me,
they're going to kill me.

So, you would still like to
serve on the Supreme Court?

I would rather die than
withdraw from the process.

Not for the purpose of
serving on the Supreme Court

but for the purpose of not
being driven out of this process.

I will not be scared.

I don't like bullies.

I have never run from bullies.

I never cry uncle and I am
not going to cry uncle today

whether I want to be on
the Supreme Court or not.

We are recessed for 15 minutes.

CROWD: We support Thomas!

We support Thomas!

CLARENCE: The poll numbers
had changed dramatically,

after I testified.

twice as many respondents

to a CBS News/New
York Times poll say

they would likely
believe Judge Thomas

if they were forced to choose.

It's like two thirds of the
country was normally on my side.

The question is on the
confirmation of the nomination

of Clarence Thomas of Georgia
to be an Associate Justice

of the United States
Supreme Court.

SPEAKER: Mr. Deconcini.


SPEAKER: Mr. Kerry
of Massachusetts.



McCAIN: Aye.

MICHAEL: Where were you
during the actual Senate vote?

CLARENCE: During the vote,
I was in the tub, and finally,

So I got in the bath,
and just sort of soaked.

QUAYLE: On this vote the
yeas are 52 and the nays are 48.

The nomination of
Clarence Thomas of Georgia

to be associate justice of the
United States Supreme Court

is hereby confirmed.

when the vote happened,

someone who worked with me
called and told me that he won.

And I went and told Clarence,
and he was in a bath-tub.

And you know, my reaction is,

still pretty much the way it is
now "whoop-dee-damn-doo."

And I wasn't really
all that interested in it.

I just think what
they did was wrong.

So that you get confirmed,
but the bottom line

doesn't change the fact
that what you did was wrong.

Repeat after me:

I, Clarence Thomas...

Do solemnly swear...

will support and defend...

That I will support
and defend...

The Constitution
of the United States.

Without warning memories of home,
my grandparents

and the accumulated toil

of the last 4 decades
swirled through my mind.



those same groups that
opposed you during confirmation,

continued their attack.


Nothing they do
surprises me anymore.

It's just, it's unpleasant,
but that's life.



The idea was to get rid of me,

and then it was after I was there,
it was to undermine me,

my credibility,
my effectiveness.

You want another bran muffin?

I could use some more coffee,

Sure thing!

Of Springfield police department
vs. Hector Rodriguez Gonzalez.

Justice Thomas?

Uhh, well how were the rest
of you guys going to vote?

I'm voting for the
police department.

I say whatever the
rest of you guys say.

Justice Thomas...

it's stereotypes draped in sanctimony

and self-congratulation.

It's a different sets of
rules for different people.

If you criticize a... a black
person who's more liberal,

you are racist.

Whereas if you can
do whatever to me,

or to now, Ben Carson,

ah, and that's fine because
you're not really black,

because you're not doing what
we expect black people to do.


It's a tactic and when
people see it being successful,

they don't realize they're
going to be the next ones

in the Tower of London.

It is just a matter of time.

You allow this to be a
precedent in your society,

and you, people might say,
"Oh, it's wonderful.

This particular guy is
getting tarred and feathered."

Well, there's a lot of tar,
and there's a lot of feather,

and eventually
you will be there.

NEWSCASTER: A watershed
moment at the Supreme Court-

Justice Clarence
Thomas asked a question

this is the first time Thomas
has asked a question

in ten years.

He has said he
relies on written briefs.

The case involves
the Federal Law...


MICHAEL: Some people say
you don't ask enough questions

during oral argument.

We are judges, not advocates

and I think we
should act accordingly.

Yeah, we might have opinions,

but it's not my job
to argue with lawyers;

it's their job to
make their cases,

and there's an
advocate on each side.

The referee in the game
should not be a participant

in the game.

The way things are
changed is when the opinion,

the senior member
in the majority

assigns who writes the opinion,

when that opinion is,
is in draft form, it circulates.

And that's where
the negotiations

and the real work takes place.


One of the joys I get is,
I get four new clerks every year.

I hire four new
clerks every year.

Everybody who's chosen here,
was chosen for a reason,

I'm very careful.

Everybody here is just,
just what a great group.

GINNI THOMAS: When Clarence
started picking non-Ivy League clerks,

some people would
call them "third tier trash"

and those clerks who
were clerking for Clarence,

took it as a badge of honor.

did you go to USC?


Your favorite question.

school I applied sort of all over the place

and just went to the,

went to the best
place I could get in.

CLARENCE: And that was Harvard?


That's what people told me.

Couldn't have done any better,


We had some suggestions for you,
but you didn't call us.


PROTESTORS: What do we want?

Affirmative action!

When do we want it?


What do we want?

Affirmative action!

When do we want it?

expected to be a landmark case

before the Supreme Court
to be argued this April.

NEWSCASTER #2: The plaintiffs in
this case are three white applicants

to the University of
Michigan who were rejected,

they say, because of their race.


CLARENCE: "Racial discrimination
is not a permissible solution...

that can only weaken
the principle of equality

embodied in the
Declaration of Independence

and the Equal
Protection Clause."

Show me in the Constitution
where you get a right

to separate citizens
based on race.

I think what we've
become comfortable with is

thinking that there is
some good discrimination

and some bad discrimination.

And if you look in the
briefs in the race cases, uh,

the segregationists,
the people who thought

you should have a separate system,

they said that they thought
it was good for both races.

So they thought it was
good discrimination.


You have to really be
careful not to supplant

what is there, what was,
uh, rightfully done,

simply because you
don't think it's a great rule.

A bad policy can
be constitutional.

A good policy can
be unconstitutional.

So that's why we
start with the text.

GINNI THOMAS: Justice Scalia called
Clarence a "blood thirsty originalist."

He took that as a compliment.

CLARENCE: The framers
understood natural law,

and natural rights
a certain way,

and it is underpinning
of our Declaration,

which then becomes the
foundation for the Constitution.

They start with the
rights of the individual.

And where do those
rights come from?

They come from God,
they're transcendent.

And you give up
some of those rights

in order to be governed.

They're inalienable rights.

And now you give up
only so many as necessary

to be governed by your consent.

And hence limited government,
enumerated powers,

separation of powers,
federalism, judicial review.

It all makes sense.


GINNI THOMAS: One of Clarence's
biggest loves is when he can get away

from Washington DC and be
on the road in his motor home.


CLARENCE: You know, I don't
have any problem with going to Europe,

but I prefer the United States.

And I prefer seeing the regular
parts of the United States.

I prefer going across
the rural areas.

I prefer the RV parks,
and I prefer the Walmart parking

lots to the beaches
and things like that.

There's something,
normal to me about it.

I come from regular stock,
and I prefer that.

I prefer being around that.

GINNI THOMAS: I think he has
a natural capacity to hear more

than most of us do
from regular people.

Clarence's grandfather
is the perfect example

of an anchor in his life

that was not seen by
the elites as having value

because he had
such poor education.

He was illiterate.

But for Clarence,
the wisdom from that man

and the experience,
and the way he lived his life,

did make him the
greatest man in his life.

GINNI THOMAS: I think he
hopes that when he gets to heaven,

that his grandfather would say,
"Well done."

CLARENCE: I keep a bust of my
grandfather that my wife had made,

over me and I've done
since I've been at the court.

He was uncorrupted
by modern thinking.

When you can't read and write,
you take in life as it is.

You did things a certain way.

You planted corn a certain way,
you fed the hogs a certain way,

you pulled the fence
line a certain way,

you plowed the field a certain

and it always had to be the
right way.

I want to be able to say to him
I lived up to my oath

and did my best.


To do it the way you did the
field, properly,

to do the law the right way,

to conduct yourself
the right way.

I want to be able to say that
it's a job well done.


And to be a part
of this, this country,

and this Constitution,

there is a sense of fulfillment
that you get to write,

and to defend the very thing
that protects our liberties.