Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Clarence Thomas

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas was born in June 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia, and grew up in Savannah with his maternal grandparents. His parents were descendants of American slaves, and the family spoke Gullah as a first language. He was the only black person at his high school in Savannah, where he was an honor student. Raised Catholic, he considered entering the priesthood and attended Saint John Vianney Minor Seminary, later attending Conception Seminary College in Missouri. He earned an undergraduate degree in English literature from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He received a deferment from military draft to serve in Vietnam due to having a curvature of the spine. He graduated from Yale Law School with a Juris Doctor.

He was appointed an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri and subsequently entered into the private practice of law. He served as a legislative assistant to Senator John Danforth of Missouri and was appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. President Ronald Reagan appointed him Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Thomas was appointed by President George H.W. Bush for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he served 18 months before being nominated to a seat on the United States Supreme Court. His confirmation hearings before the Senate were contentious, but he was subsequently confirmed and assumed his position in October 1991, succeeding Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the longest-serving justice among current Supreme Court members.

He is married to Virginia and has a son from a previous marriage. He is a Catholic.

In the News…

Oral arguments lasting almost six hours were heard by members of the U.S. Supreme Court this week regarding the legality of college admission policies that consider the race of prospective students, specifically at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

The UNC attorneys who argued in support of the admissions practices were asked by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to explain how racial diversity improves the educational experience. 

“I didn’t go to racially diverse schools, but there were educational benefits. And I’d like you to tell me expressly when a parent sends a kid to college that they don’t necessarily send them there to have fun or feel good or anything like that. They send them there to learn physics or chemistry or whatever they’re studying,” Justice Thomas stated. “So tell me what the educational benefits are to that?” 

The lawyer for UNC responded by referencing studies on diversity, to which Justice Thomas responded, “Well, I guess I don’t put much stock in that because I’ve heard similar arguments in favor of segregation too.” 

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Justice Thomas today? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Justice Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20543


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