May 6th, 2013
10:23 AM ET
1 year 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. Ar45

    Recent utterances by the two conservative judges of the Supreme Court exposes their true colors. Why people should expect them to render fair decisions based on the Constitution? Most decisions since 2000 are tainted.

    May 6, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. nitrous

    I feel bad for him. He has to look at that puss in the mirror every morning. No wonder he's self-hating.

    May 6, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. jason

    And, what's Clarence's excuse for where he is?

    May 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. StarshipTrooper

    Clarence woke up! LOL. I guess if forgot what Jesse Jackson said about candidate Obama.

    May 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Big_D

    Project much?

    May 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. ghostriter

    He's right to an extent. Obama had to walk a fine line. Take tons of abuse and keep on smiling. I know I don't have that much resolve.

    May 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. tkevinh

    Sir, you never cease to disappoint.

    May 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Cletus

    Kind of scary that this shallowness of intellect is what passes for a SCOTUS justice. Duh! You and everyone else on the national stage are where you are today with the approval of the "media elites". It has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. If you don't pass their test you don't have a snowball's chance in heck of making it. Just ask Mittens...

    May 6, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. BradW

    I guess a good reason for a Justice to hardly ever ask a question is to try and hide an almost total lack of understanding of the issues.

    May 6, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. Carol

    On those rare occasions when he does open his mouth, Thomas reveals himself as a whiney victim. He insults other black people by suggesting that he was "picked on" because he was a black man who "decided not to go along with it." Not so!!! He was scrutinized because he was/is intimidating & insulting to women and excercises poor judgement. Now he thinks he can be just as insulting to black people by lumping himself and his deeds into the black race. Oh please, give us a break!!! We are all better off when he keeps his mouth shut!

    May 6, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Fact Checker

    A jurist on the top court in the country formulates opinions without asking questions? He must possess supernatural analytical ability...or maybe just makes up his mind before the proceedings start. This guy has to be one of the worst jurists in my lifetime. Another GOP gift that keeps on giving.

    May 6, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. anchorite

    No wonder he never speaks. Everything out of his mouth is either completely wrong or a deliberate Orwellian lie.

    May 6, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Laverne

    I have never know Clarence Thomas to help any "black cause"! He has 99% of the time been a follower. I am African American, but as far as a am concerned, Thurgood Marshall still remains the only black to ever serve on the US Supreme Court!

    May 6, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Mike

    Now if that isn't like the pot calling the kettle.... a household item typically found in the kitchen.

    May 6, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Long Dong Silver

    Clarence should keep his mouth shut at all times. He has always been poorly equipped to serve on the Supreme Court and the work he and his wife do puts him directly in conflict with the role he's supposed to play.

    May 6, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Joi Gibson

    WTH is he talking about! It's called voting. Since you are so fond of not speaking in court, maybe you should carry on that tradition elsewhere.

    May 6, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. JAB

    I hate to break it to you Clarence but the media will take apart anyone they don't agree with or like. Where have you been?

    May 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. Big_D

    His wife running a PAC reeks of impropriety to me. They did appoint the President in 2000. These are just facts not assumptions.

    May 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. Dave

    Clarence Thomas is the biggest disgrace on that bench, but NOT for his skin color.

    May 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Hillcrester

    Clarabelle is an embarrassment to the Judiciary and a clear "black" mark against affirmative action. All he has proven is that a sullen, resentful Justics whose mind is made up before he hears the opposing counsels doesn't need to participate in oral argument.

    May 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Mr. Moderate

    Based on his and Mr LaPierre's hysterics over the weekend "elites" seems to be the right wind boogyman du jour. So who are these elites? Based on the last election results and the NRA membership, apparently anyone who isn't an older white male.

    May 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Josh Renfroe

    What an embarrassment and shame to have Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court judge. If he spoke more on the fly, his incompetence would be quickly revealed.

    May 6, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. hubert39

    Elites wanted Obama... and millions of poor, lower middle, and middle class people. And the world wanted Obama as president.
    Thomas says what ever the super rich white people want him to say.

    May 6, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Thomas is right on the media. What ever the media elites want to say they will say and support. If they do not like a subject, they will keep quiet. Gosnell trial is totally absent from most ot hte leading media...Though a wicked crime, the subject does not meet the criteria of the media...Even the media tried to white wash the Boston Bombings, Black mob violence,Arab Sprin, etc... Black on white crimes etc. Political correctness is plays at the central stage. The nation will pay a great price for it at the end.

    May 6, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He's right to an extent. Obama had to walk a fine line. Take tons of abuse and keep on smiling. I know I don't have that much resolve.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You and me both. As a matter of fact one of two things, if not both, would've occured if I'd had to endure a fraction of what this President has and continues to: impeachment and or jail time, not necessarily in that order.

    May 6, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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