May 6th, 2013
10:23 AM ET
9 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."

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"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. rockysfan

    Sorry your view of the world is so warped. Didn't like that you were approved and you prove me right every time you open your mouth. Tough life when you have a job for life now isn't it?

    May 6, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Boo

    I'm inclined to believe this man is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    May 6, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. longtooth

    I don't care what color his skin is, and I don't care whether he's liberal or conservative. A Supreme Court Justice who never asks questions is showing a remarkably closed mind and narrow viewpoint. The man is an embarrassment.

    May 6, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Sid Airfoil

    Another conspiracy theorist, and a Justice, at that. Obama couldn't possibly have won because because he advocated policies supported by the majority. No. It HAS to be because he fooled the "elites" into lying to the American people.

    What a sad excuse for a man.


    May 6, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. Anomic Office Drone

    It's cute that so many people think the "elites" preferred either candidate. Those "elites" bought and paid for both of them and the rest of government, too. They have nothing to fear from the parties.

    May 6, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Joe Rockbottom

    I I think many would disagree that he can do his job without asking questions. We don' t have any idea if he is doing any "job" at all. He hasn't done a thing in 16 years. Not one single thing.

    May 6, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Duncan McGinnis

    I'm glad that an esteemed associate justice of the Supreme Court, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the rest of his life without any accountablity thinks that a 49 year old high school history teacher and his state employee wife are "elites"

    May 6, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. oldowl

    CT: The WORST "Justice" the Supreme Court has ever been tainted with.

    May 6, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. David

    Clarence Thomas... a grumpy, jealous old man who has never had an original thought (or opinion) in his life.

    May 6, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Reckless

    Think he's projecting the method to his career. I feel bad for Mr Thomas he lived his life in silence so he didn't upset anyone and could move up the chain. Unfortunately he doesn't see the world of today he still fears the world he knew yesterday

    May 6, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Rod

    Clarence Thomas personifies what is meant by promotion to a position for which he is unqualified. I fervently wish that the next SCOTUS vacancy is created by his departure, and it would not be soon enough. Is he even capable of remembering when the court is in session? I doubt that he wants to be reminded because he would have to set his toy choo-choo trains aside for a few hours.

    May 6, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. Largerthandeath

    Clarence "I know Nothing" Thomas should have been impeached for refusing to recuse himself in Bush v. Gore as he had a son and daughter in law paid by Bush.
    Any lesser judge ruling on a case where he had direct gain would have been impeached.
    That and Scalia with his TWO sons paid by Bush should both be thrown off the bench AND imprisoned.

    May 6, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    And here I thought that President Obama was the welfare, food stamp president. Pubic Hair Thomas is a disgrace to black men, black skin and the color black in general. He needs to step down from his post and realize that he's nothing.

    May 6, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. john

    Sounds to me like he insulted the president. People didn't like what Romoney had to say and rejected him. Color had little to do with it, Obama is for real and people know it. That is why he is president.

    May 6, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. SB Atl

    The guy is so political. He espouses all the nut case right wing positions so him saying he is not political is an absolute joke. He was and probably still is poor example of arrogance and poor treatment of women. The man literally makes me sick (and it has NOTHING to do with his color). It's all about him as a man or lack thereof.

    May 6, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Mark

    If you're not "into politics" then maybe you shouldn't be on the supreme court of the united states?

    May 6, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. mpwaite

    @Rockysfan... Justice Thomas is SPOT ON actually. The Elite rule this world; they just let us think our elected officials are running the show.

    May 6, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. Cephus

    Clarence Thomas is spot on but he misses the most important point " It's Yahweh, Jehovah's, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" who picks up leaders according to his purpose. The elite and the media are just scavengers picking up bones while pretending to be the real deal. I know a thing or two which those morons will never know unless they open the eyes of their souls.

    May 6, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Michael

    Clarence feels bad because no one really wanted him to be where he is because he is a bit of a perv.

    May 6, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Liberal

    According to the liberal standard hating this black man makes you a racist.

    May 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. Tracy

    This guy is spot on! No more need be said!

    May 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Huh.

    All I am hearing from Justice Thomas is sense of value of his own point of view or desire to seek input. How can any justice sit on a bench and "not ask a single question". As for 'the elites' Il'll take an elite over a gun-loving fringe lunatic any day!!! At least they are trying to work and make positive change.

    May 6, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Name

    Sounds a bit like jealousy to me. Justice Thomas should take into consideration that he had to follow Thurgood Marshall while President Obama only had George W. Bush.

    May 6, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Hamburger Jones

    Clarence Thomas can SPEAK? Some white guy must have snapped their fingers. Uncle Tom sure knows about having elite permission to rise, that's for sure.

    May 6, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. The Dude

    "Elites"? How many millions is this fool worth, and he's talking "elites"?

    May 6, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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