Clarence Thomas, the youngest and most controversial member of the Supreme Court, could become the longest-serving justice in history, influencing American law for decades to come. Who is this enigmatic man? And what does he believe in?
Judging Thomas tells the remarkable story of Clarence Thomas's improbable journey from hardscrabble beginnings in the segregated South to the loftiest court in the land. With objectivity and balance, author Ken Foskett chronicles Thomas's contempt for upper-crust blacks who snubbed his uneducated, working-class roots; his flirtation with the priesthood and, later, Black Power; the resentment that fueled his opposition to affirmative action; the conservative beliefs that ultimately led him to the Supreme Court steps; and the inner resilience that propelled him through the doors.
Based on interviews with Thomas himself, fellow justices, family members, and hundreds of friends and associates, Judging Thomas skillfully unravels perhaps the most complex, controversial, and powerful public figure in America today.
This in-depth look at the life of Clarence Thomas, who has kept a low public profile for over a decade, is a refreshing change. Foskett, a journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, focuses on Thomas's growth from his upbringing at the hands of a strict grandfather through his time at Yale Law School and his eventual, albeit controversial, ascension to the Supreme Court. Relying on a mixture of secondary sources and oral interviews, Foskett delves into Thomas's intellectual development, from a flirtation with black power in college to his embrace of the natural law philosophy that dictates his strict reading of the Constitution. While Foskett leaves no stone unturned in detailing Thomas's history, he occasionally is less effective at connecting the dots: is there a connection between Thomas's strict upbringing, his attendance at religious schools and his hard-line judicial philosophy? Foskett is occasionally critical of Thomas (he notes a scandal that dogged Thomas when he headed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), but mainly argues that Thomas's legal mind has been unfairly criticized because he's a black conservative. Foskett's conclusion that Thomas was likely more truthful at his Senate confirmation hearings than Anita Hill will be a turnoff to some. But those able to suspend political judgment will learn a lot about the court's most controversial justice.