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. p t leonard

    Under informed public.
    According to progressive Dems, any blacks with a job and high paid athletes, are considered Uncle Toms too,
    just like Clarence Thomas, and Barack Obama.

    May 6, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. rogco

    There's a pubic hair on your coke! Ahh, Thomas, you are one classy dude. I love the way you talked about women having sex with animals, and your one year of job experience prior to becoming a Supreme Court Justice certainly gave you the necessary experience. Your quiet, measured approach comes off as classy, which is good, otherwise people would just think you were not smart.

    May 6, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. DB

    Let's face it, we are a nation that is divided by so many walls it is utterly impossible to agree on anything. We have color, we have religion, we have political views, sexual views, age views, and the list goes on and on. Now that the liberal democratic party is in control, they still blame the republican party for anything that does not go their way or does not succeed. They will reach back into history to grab republican presidents and blame them for anything. This group wouldn't be happy if we had a 100% democratic House, Senate, Executive brances or if the SCOTUS was 100% democratic.
    It doesn't matter if this nation if financially floundering, our political leaders make new tax laws, take our money and give it away to every nation in the world, not millions of dollars but billions of dollars. We are trillions of dollars in debt now and who has to pay the bills. the working stiff, not the half of our society who are on the government give away programs. In fact, threaten to cut back on those give away programs and you have a riot on your hands as those people are third generation Great Society individuals who no longer know how to work. It is a wonder they get in trouble all the time as they are bored to death.
    When are Americans going to wake up and get people in Washington DC who care about us and not their reelection, who are not taking office to become millionares in only a couple years (how do they do that legally anyway), through making themselves exempt from the very laws they place on us, the citizens of the USA?

    May 6, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Hamburger Jones

    What I saw was a bunch of elites trying to stick us with Mitt Romney. Remember him? Rich guy, was gonna hire you all and make you rich when he got around to it one day? Yeah, that didn't work out as well as appointing Clarence Thomas. Let us vote on him next.

    May 6, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Joe

    Liberals are nothing more than sick animals. Justice Thomas states the truth.

    May 6, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Greg

    The reason Thomas remains mostly silent on the bench is because he is an idiot and doesn't want to say anthing that will show just how unqualified he is to be on the Supreme Court, or any court. Thomas is an embarassment to the judicial system.

    May 6, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. JB Ahern

    Hmmm, Maybe Clarence forgot that he was PUT into the Supreme Court by his Republican Elitist Groupies! I doubt anyone has forgotten that he was "accused" of harassment, ruined a career of an intellegent woman but still got his "Political" Seat! He being Black was indeed NOT in that shuffle..... Just saying

    May 6, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Green Oak

    Do I detect a slight note of racism in his comments?

    May 6, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. George Gray

    Never was there a man so undeserving of holding such an important position. It's depressing to think that a man with his meagre intellect can be appointed to the highest bench.

    May 6, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Tony in St Louis

    Who is this guy? I almost forgot he was still around.

    May 6, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Hamburger Jones

    " we are a nation that is divided by so many walls it is utterly impossible to agree on anything"

    That's just dumb; we agree on about 90% of issues. The ones that divide us are the ones that are hard to decide.

    May 6, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Elwyn

    Yikes! You'd think Clarence Thomas, of all people, would know that Obama IS NOT BLACK. He is an African-American, yes, but not black - unless Clarence Thomas believes in the 1-drop Rule. And as a side note, I can't think of any job more elitest than being a Supreme Court Justice. Don't have to do any work, never have to be right, and have a job for life that sets you above virtually everyone else in the US. Sweet deal!

    May 6, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. hypatia

    He is completely undeserving of his high position and he should be impeached.

    May 6, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Pianofan

    "I'm not into politics." Oh, reeeeealllly?? Could've fooled me.

    May 6, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. ghostriter

    UDidntBuildThat, umm....hate to break it to you, but republicans turned on Herman Cain. When it became clear that he couldn't get over the hump, you guys left him high and dry. Of course, the piece of fiction he called his $9.99 plan may have helped as well.

    Tell us what happened to Collin Powell. I don't seem to remember liberals attacking him. Matter of fact, once again republicans turned on Powell. All because he didn't say what they wanted him to say.

    Republican playbook: Do onto others exactly what you will claim your victims to be doing to you.

    May 6, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Hamburger Jones

    "Liberals are nothing more than sick animals." If you believe that, you have the mind of a 12-year-old. You live in a liberal country by liberal laws which allow you to worship a liberal god, and you can't even define "liberal" because Glenn Beck has messed up your mind. Go read a book or something.

    May 6, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. Who painted the picture?

    "anybody that they didn't agree with, they would take apart."

    Clarence Thomas thinks this does not apply to anyone the elites do not agree with? What is that fool doing on the Supreme court?

    May 6, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. M Grumpe

    Doesn’t need to ask questions? What a waste of a robe.

    May 6, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. reasonablebe

    he's not into politics????? who does he think he's kidding? he is so into right wing politics no one could get much deeper.

    May 6, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Bill

    It took 99% of the American people to vote in Obama. The elites are the 1% that the GOP serves. It's just sad that it took 8 years of the dumbest GOP president ever in dubya to bring the majority of the American people together to vote in a more qualified successor.

    May 6, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. rickinmo

    Clarence Thomas, the mental midget of the Supreme Court, should refrain from talking anywhere; not just on the court. We need intelligent people to solve our problems and interpret our laws. Thomas doesn't meet the qualifications.

    May 6, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. lui xi ung

    Clarence who ?

    May 6, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. Tom

    Stupidity from a supreme court justice that never asks questions in court cases brought before him. Obama was elected by Americans who believed in his beliefs and goals. What those that believed in him did not vote for was an agenda by an opposition that publically stated there job was to make him a one term President (now two) and thwarted or tried to thwart every thing he tried to get done. History will record the republican effort at failure. And it is my hope that the voters will not soon forget what republicans have done in future elections.

    May 6, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. theINDEPENDENTone

    OBAMA is a puppet.. a prop. He is the commercial face of a party... not the ingredients. Obama is the face on the box of Cherios.. that lets Reed, Pelosi and Schumer run things as they wish without public scrutiny. I loved Schumer's comment.. the people don't care. You can't expect them to understand this.. that's why they have us. It's the simple reason we have no public opposition today.. no street marches demanding jobs.. complaining about the doubling of the price of milk. No peace marches even with 5 additional years of War under OBAMA. Foreclosures happen without resistance and not a peep about the rampant Black unemployment and the loss of 40% of the the average family savings and the loss of Black wealth to the 1960's. OBAMA is the perfect for an elite political class to rule a nation without public scrutiny.

    May 6, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. Martha

    Poor Clarence Thomas ... he still hasn't gotten over the fact that he's not well liked. Oh well.

    May 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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