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100 former clerks sign letter defending Justice Thomas' integrity

 August 30, 2023

In the face of recent allegations about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's professional conduct, more than 100 of his former clerks have united to pen an open letter, staunchly defending his character and independence.

The clerks shared experience paints a portrait of a man whose "integrity is unimpeachable" and "his independence is unshakable," as Fox News reported.

The letter, signed by 112 individuals, including current solicitors general, prominent lawyers, and circuit court judges such as David Stras, Jim Ho, and Allison Rushing, attests to the unwavering character they've observed in Justice Thomas.

The letter reads, "Along the way, we all saw with our own eyes the same thing: His integrity is unimpeachable. And his independence is unshakable, deeply rooted seven decades ago as that young child who walked through the door of his grandparent's house for a life forever changed."

A Glimpse into Justice Thomas's Journey

Delving into Justice Thomas's past, the letter recalls his humble beginnings as a descendant of West African slaves, born to a young mother in segregated Georgia.

The clerks wrote that facing adversities such as an absent father and the devastating loss of his home to a fire, young Clarence relocated to his grandparents' home with belongings humbly packed in a grocery bag.

Thomas's initial ambition was the priesthood. However, 1968 brought about personal transformations after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. This period saw him embrace Black Power ideologies and even engage in protests.

"He went to law school. He became a father. He worked for legal aid. He saw forced busing and violence and insolence in South Boston. He devoted himself to doing better for his son," the lawyers wrote. "He took the road less traveled."

Upon his move to Washington, D.C., Justice Thomas engaged deeply with the nation's history, especially grappling with the paradox of a nation founded on equality while endorsing slavery.

As described by the former clerks, their time working alongside Justice Thomas provided them with a unique vantage point.

They praised him as "a man of greatest intellect, of greatest faith, and of greatest patriotism." Moreover, they admired his steadfast principles, jovial spirit, and open heartedness.

Because of their own personal knowledge of the man, the clerks lamented the recurring misrepresentations of Justice Thomas in political narratives, which often overshadow the truths of his journey, philosophy, and integrity.

Controversies and Their Context

Despite these commendations, recent reports have surfaced, raising questions about Justice Thomas.

These included alleged vacations provided by GOP donor Harlan Crow and tuition support for Thomas's great-nephew. Questions also arose about Thomas's acceptance of a Super Bowl ring from Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

Justice Thomas, in response, emphasized his adherence to existing court disclosure guidelines, which he asserted he intends to continue following, especially in light of recent updates to them.

These reports stirred reactions across the political spectrum. While some Democrats called for investigations and questioned his ethical stances, Republicans such as Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) viewed these allegations as tactics to undermine a legitimately appointed conservative court.

Closing their letter, the former clerks highlighted Justice Thomas's enduring legacy. They see him as a product of challenging beginnings, continuing his dedicated service in the upcoming Supreme Court term. They express their confidence that he will continue to bring fresh perspectives, vote conscientiously, and draft opinions undisturbed by external pressures.