The press and Clarence Thomas

Photo credit: Getty Images/Tasos Katopodis


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has once again become the subject of accusations from the Left. This time, Justice Thomas, a constant target of the progressive side of the aisle, is being accused of possible ethical lapses in his personal friendships. 

What has been motivating this new effort on behalf of the Dominant Media to embarrass the long-serving justice? Driving the latest attempt to undermine Thomas (the second African-American Supreme Court justice) and, in effect, the Supreme Court of the United States, has been ProPublica and three of their earnest young muckrakers, Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski. In a series of investigation articles, the triumvirate has tried to do what other members of the fourth estate have endeavoured to do since Thomas burst onto the national scene in 1991 – smear the man and his reputation. 

The strategy for the trio and indeed the Dominant Media, rests on three considerations. First, they want to de-legitimize the court because of its conservative majority. Second, they would be delighted to force a resignation, and third, as part of a longer game, they want to justify, if the opportunity arises, the need to pack the court. 

ProPublica, rated as ‘left-centre’ by Media Bias/Fact Check, has reported on Justice Thomas’ relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow, raising doubts about his disclosure of the beneficial relationship with the mega-donor who has paid for the tuition of Thomas’ grandnephew to attend a private school. 

The effort to sully Thomas’ ethical standing aside, the accusations against Thomas seem curious. Exactly what has Thomas done that energizes the press to make a case out of his and his wife’s undertaking to help a relative get his act together and become a contributing citizen? The misleading headline in the May 4, 2023 article provides proof: Clarence Thomas Had a Child in Private School. Harlan Crow Paid the Tuition. Here is what we know:

  • Harlan Crow and Justice Thomas have been friends for over 30 years. When visiting the Carnegie Library in Savannah, Georgia in 2001, where Thomas fell in love with reading, Crow, acknowledging how far his friend had come, wanted to pay for renovations to preserve this piece of American history with the provision that a wing be named after Thomas. 
  • Crow has also paid to restore a run-down Seafood Cannery near where Thomas was born in a shanty with no running water and one light bulb. The Varn family owned the cannery and the business provided employment for Thomas’ mother and his sister. Crow simply believed the Americana this property represented deserved museum status. As part of the agreement, the Varns were able to live there rent-free for the rest of their lives
  • Crow also paid for the renovation of the convent of the nuns that Thomas began attending in 1955, Saint Benedict the Moor Catholic School. Thomas paid a beautiful tribute to the nuns in 1984:

There was no way I could have survived if it had not been for the nuns — our nuns, who made me pray when I didn’t want to and didn’t know why I should — who made me work when I saw no reason to — who made me believe in the equality of races when our country paid lip service to equality and our church tolerated inequality — who made me accept responsibilities for my own life when I looked for excuses. No, my friends, without our nuns, I would not have made it to square one.

I think the picture becomes clear. Harlan Crow loves Clarence Thomas and loves everything he represents about how America still helps people make their dreams come true. For that reason alone, the press, especially the progressive press, hate Thomas and despise the idea of an America where people can rise above their expectations and prove the adage that hard work makes the improbable a reality. 

As part of Thomas’ belief in redemption, he and his wife Ginni took in a relative’s son (Thomas’ grandnephew) and treated him like a son. Crow recognized this and wanted to help, with no government mandate forcing him to do so. These things bother the Left and influential people like Thomas become targets if they show how people can help one another without state support or social programs. 

But something more sinister undergirds these latest developments. The press does not merely want to embarrass the Justice, they are eager to gin up further doubt about the court’s legitimacy. Not that many years ago the Left could count on the court to hand down rulings that augmented their causes, but with the advent of a more activist conservative legal body, The Federalist Society, the assumption of liberal judicial ascension ended, and the trepidations of progressive legal entitlement began. Before the established Democratic jurisprudence network could mount a strategy, Republican presidents began appointing judges vetted from the originalist perspective almost as efficiently as Democratic presidents had from the activist side during the previous generation. 

Destroying trust in the court plays into the hands of the Left now that their side cannot count on favourable rulings. They are intent on stooping as low as necessary for the purpose of destroying trust in a court no longer reflecting their attempts to overthrow the American tradition of constitutional government. Making the case that corruption resides in the Court and in its most conservative members, especially Justice Thomas, becomes all-encompassing. 

In the best of leftist worlds, Justice Thomas, under withering attack, would resign. Thomas, a formidable historical figure, possesses a spine as stiff as a two-by-four. This new line of attack, only the latest effort to diminish or marginalize Thomas, continues the establishment media’s narrative that Thomas not only does not live up to his predecessor’s reputation (Justice Thurgood Marshall), he betrays his race, upholds pre-Civil Rights practices, and may even validate the creeds of white supremacism. 

Rex Chapman, a former NBA player and personality on Twitter, recently suggested Thomas is not unlike the Dave Chappelle character Clayton Bigsby, a blind man who does not realize he is black. Ana Navarro, on ABC’s The View, suggested the same sentiment right after the Dallas Mall shooting of May 6, 2023, saying, “We all have to remember that the head of the Proud Boys. His name is Enrique Tarrio. The Proud Boys is a White Nationalist group. Look, being Hispanic or being Black does not, or being anything does not make you immune from being racist, from being radicalized, from being a White supremacist, from being evil, from being homicidal. And we are seeing it over and over again. There are people who, they don’t see themselves as what they are.” 

Thomas has long grown immune to this kind of misallocated opprobrium. That does not alter the reality that given the facts of Thomas’ unique story of overcoming racial prejudice it takes a remarkable level of brash speculation to come to conclusions like those of Ms. Navarro. 

Finally, the transparency of this initiative demonstrates the lack of good-faith reporting about Thomas and the Court. Other members have had problems with disclosure. As the New York Post detailed about a Daily Wire investigation:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t recuse herself from multiple cases involving a book publisher – Penguin Random House – which paid her more than $3 million since 2010, according to a report. The copyright infringement cases, in which Penguin Random House stood to suffer financial damage if the court ruled unfavorably, were not taken up by the high court but justices voted on whether or not to hear the cases. Altogether, Sotomayor earned $3.6 million from Penguin Random House and its subsidiaries for agreeing to let them publish her 2013 memoir, “My Beloved World,” and numerous children’s books since then. 

The mainstream press understands that a generational challenge exists in the Supreme Court. The idea of packing the court resurfaced in 2020, but with Democrats holding a bare majority the idea stalled, but remained operative. Obviously, the narrowness of the Democratic Senate majority continues to present obstacles, but forcing this scheme forward seems like the only way to overcome the conservative bulwark. 

The anti-democratic nature of the notion eludes leftist thinking. The irony of court-packing eroding democracy falls short of the real threat in their minds. Rather, a conservative court running amok, reducing freedoms, and imposing a constitutional barrier to liberal legal imprimatur must be subdued. If it means adding justices because the court is illegitimate or houses corrupt judges, the ends justify the means.

These attacks on Thomas foretell an accelerated effort to lay waste to another institution for the purpose of power and dogmatic control of the political system. When the Dominant Media points its fingers at conservative jurists it aims to not only accuse but disqualify and remove any opposition to their project of liquidating the historical American Constitutional system and replacing individual rights with the new hierarchy of group justice.

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