May 6th, 2013
10:23 AM ET
2 years ago

Clarence Thomas: 'The elites' had to approve a black president

(CNN) – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the high court's only African American jurist, opened up recently about his thoughts on race and the White House.

Asked if he ever expected to see an African American president in his lifetime, the conservative justice said he always knew "it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites and the media, because anybody that they didn't agree with, they would take apart."

"And that will happen with virtually - you pick your person, any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart," he said in an April interview at Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, which aired on C-SPAN.

"You can pick anybody, don't pick me, pick anyone who has decided not to go along with it; there's a price to pay," he continued. "So, I always assumed it would be somebody the media had to agree with."

Thomas didn't mention President Obama specifically in his comments. Asked if he had met the 44th president, Thomas said the two have only met in passing.

"I don't do a lot of Washington and I'm not into politics, so I mean there's not that many occasion," he said, adding that they once shook hands at an inauguration to be polite. "But I've had no in-depth conversation."

Thomas is known for staying largely silent on the bench and has rarely commented on cases during his time in the high court.

"One thing I've demonstrated often in 16 years is you can do this job without asking a single question," he recalled in a speech five years ago.

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Bill Mears contributed to this report.


Filed under: Clarence Thomas • President Obama • Supreme Court
soundoff (597 Responses)
  1. Jez

    Maybe that is why Clarence never asks any questions. "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doube". Nice strategy for a Supreme court Justice. Not. This guy is a joke.

    May 6, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Adam Davis

    I find it so strange that nowadays we cannot express ourselves and speak the truth. Just because someone says something you don't have to agree with it. In this crazy world of liberalism that we live in, an opinion is an opinion, good or bad. We should be able to speak with our own belief system and not worry what other people think. This statement by Clarence Thomas speaks volumes for what he thinks and believes.

    May 6, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Complete ignorance

    Who cares what Uncle Remus has to say?

    May 6, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Nutellina

    Elitist middle class and poor people? How does that work?

    May 6, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Tom

    I see Justice Thomas got a lifetime supply of conservative Kool-Aid with that lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS. The evil liberal media elected Obama - twice! Unbelievable.

    May 6, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. CG

    A repub tool, nothing more.

    May 6, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. Duke

    Once again the comments on here of the so called "tolerant" and nonracist of the Left demonstrate exactly the attitude that Justice Thomas was alluding to.

    May 6, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. ghostriter

    How many times are we gonna allow republicans to throw out the media card? And the race card? I thought only liberals did that?

    I wonder which part of the media and the elites was it that didn't select Herman Cain? Ohhh.....that's right....the republicans didn't select Herman Cain. Guess he didn't say the right stuff.

    Be careful Mr. Thomas. See how conservatives treated Collin Powell. And they wanted him to run for president.

    May 6, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. lamb of dog

    The supreme court is a joke.

    May 6, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    You are talking, idiot. Where did your judgement go when Health care law was upheld by John Roberts??? Nasty political thug. That wanted to undermine black president.

    May 6, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. lamb of dog

    This moron has been given way to much power.

    May 6, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Gaberax

    Clarence is out of touch with reality.

    May 6, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Name imfreeuc

    He's an idiot!

    May 6, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. lamb of dog

    Not asking a single question? So in other words his mind is already made up. Great that we have this thinker on the scotus.

    May 6, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Gloria

    OMG, This is Stephen (Samuel Jackson) on Django!!!!!!!!

    May 6, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Sam Cooke

    Good Ole' Uncle Thomas. I didn't know he could talk, he sure hasn't said much to any one except Anita Hill.

    May 6, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. sly

    Gotta love those '47%' - you know, the 'elitist impoverished citizens seeking entitlements.

    Must be fun to be what the Republican wacko's call 'elite'.

    Also nice to know that those 70million elitists twice voted to elect our President.

    Thank God for President Obama for leading us out of the Bush Dark Ages.

    May 6, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. jim

    "One thing I've demonstrated often in 16 years is you can do this job without asking a single question,"

    There is a difference between "doing the job" and "showing up at the office".

    May 6, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Thomas

    The 47% freeloaders are also the elite? I think we have as many (contradictory) excuses for Obama as we had for Iraq War II.

    May 6, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    They should put a caption right next to his mouth that says "Yessa – Massa" and that'll explain the no questions in 16 years.

    May 6, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    @Gloria

    OMG, This is Stephen (Samuel Jackson) on Django!!!!!!!!
    --------------------------
    You just read my mind. ROFLMAO!

    May 6, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. SteveN

    He's right but it isn't only confined to African Americans – the elites have to approve before anyone can become president.

    May 6, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Olaf Big

    The Elites would be people who can think of an intelligent question to ask on or off the bench, I suppose?

    May 6, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. Terry

    Better to stay silent and be thought a fool ,than to speak and remove all doubt ! (just in case any previous posts haven't said the same thing).

    May 6, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. wade

    Honesty ! How refreshing.

    May 6, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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