Supreme Court Justice Profile: Clarence Thomas

Last month’s post had us focus on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. For this month, we’re again going to move forward with the series, this time, setting our eyes on another colleague of his, Justice Clarence Thomas.

As someone who emphasizes the textualist approach of the Constitution by looking into its original meaning, Justice Thomas is the second African-American justice to be elected to the U.S. Supreme Court, following Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Clarence Thomas 

Born: June 23, 1948

Profession: Lawyer, Judge

Alma Mater:

College of the Holy Cross, 1971 (Cum Laude)

Yale University, 1974


Born in Pin Point, a small coastal town in Georgia, Clarence was the second child of his father, M.C. Thomas and Leola Williams, both descendants of African slaves. Clarence’s father walked out on his family when he was two years old, leaving his mother to send him and his two siblings to live with their grandfather in Savannah.

He once considered pursuing religious life. He entered the St. John Vianney Minor Seminary during his high school years, where he graduated in 1967. He then went on to study at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Missouri.

In the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence became interested in politics when he left the seminary due to a discriminatory remark made by a fellow seminarian. He studied English at the Holy Cross College in Missouri, where he got involved in various causes and protested against Vietnam War. He graduated cum laude in 1971.

He began to align himself as a conservative when he went to Yale. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1974 upon graduation.

After earning his degree, he worked as an assistant to Attorney General John Danforth. He then moved to Washington where he received appointments from President Ronald Reagan and served in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC in 1982.

In 1991, George H.W. Bush nominated him to the position as Associate Justice, replacing Justice Thorgood Marshall. Marshall was vehemently liberal, contrasting Thomas’s conservative stance. Nevertheless, he was confirmed and appointed as Supreme Court Justice on the same year and has served the position ever since.

Notable cases:

United States v. Morrison

A sexual assault case involving Antonio Morrison, a Virginia Tech football player, and Christy Brzonkala, a student.

Troxel v. Granville

A case regarding custody and visitation time of the children left behind by Brad Troxel after his suicide.

Carter v. United States

A robbery case where Floyd J. Carter was on trial for robbing a bank unarmed, wearing a ski mask.


Clarence Thomas, Encyclopedia of Biography

Clarence Thomas,

Clarence Thomas, The Oyez Project