Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas Continues His Long War on Affirmative Action


Courtesy of C-SPAN

In his memoir My Grandfather's Son, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pointed to his years at Yale Law School as the genesis of his hostility to affirmative action. "Before long I realized that those blacks who benefitted from it were being judged by a double standard," Thomas wrote. "As much as it stung to be told that I'd done well in the seminary despite my race, it was far worse to feel that I was now at Yale because of it." In response, he took extra course credits and pursued a tough field of study. But in the end, Thomas recalled, he found "the stigmatizing effects of racial preference" impossible to escape and "began to fear that it would be used forever after to discount my achievements."

The passage of time has done little to diminish that negative understanding. A decade ago, when the Supreme Court narrowly upheld the University of Michigan's use of race in law school admissions, Thomas filed a lengthy dissent, arguing that such racial preferences do an injustice to their purported beneficiaries. "When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement," he argued. "The question itself is the stigma–because either racial discrimination did play a role, in which case the person may be deemed 'otherwise unqualified,' or it did not, in which case asking the question itself unfairly marks those blacks who would succeed without discrimination."

Earlier today, the Supreme Court returned once more to the divisive issue of affirmative action in higher education, and once more, Clarence Thomas left no doubt about where he stood. Although he joined Justice Anthony Kennedy's anticlimactic majority opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which did not rule on the constitutionality of the school's admissions policy but instead sent the dispute back to the federal appellate court for further proceedings, Thomas wrote separately to restate his longstanding case for abolishing racial preferences in public education once and for all.

"Although cloaked in good intentions, the University's racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping," Thomas wrote. Returning to themes he has advanced throughout his career, Thomas argued in favor of a colorblind reading of the 14th Amendment. "The Equal Protection Clause strips States of all authority to use race as a factor in providing education," he declared. "All applicants must be treated equally under the law, and no benefit in the eye of the beholder can justify racial discrimination."

With the present case remanded back to the lower court and future challenges brewing on other university campuses, it's likely this won't be the last time we hear from Thomas on this particular question. But for now, his views remain those of a dissenter, unable to command a majority on the Supreme Court.

NEXT: Richard Matheson, Author, Dead at 87

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Good for him!


    Dept. of Labor destroys business:…..n/2436263/

    1. Dept. of Labor destroys business

      What’s new?

    2. “My business didn’t become successful because of government assistance; it became successful because my customers like the way I do business.”

      Silly Rhea, you didnt build that.

      1. But, but, INFRASTRUCTURE! She wouldn’t have been able to do ANYTHING if it weren’t the government! There wouldn’t be roads or social stability, because people OBVIOUSLY can’t do those things on their own! Only with the magic of coercion can things happen!

        1. and she probably never contributed to the building of those roads at any point prior to opening a business. She never paid any tax till then.

        2. Knockout point. She now has to forfeit all of her wealth to the state.

          It’s common sense fairness social justice.

  2. “When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement,” he argued.

    People today don’t seem to take pride in achievement so much as pride in result. That is to say, how someone got what they have doesn’t mean as much. For Thomas to keep reminding everyone that their “accomplishments” might be tainted by the embarrassing and unnecessary infantilization of an entire group of people is inconvenient.

    1. I dunno, but definitely for liberals, it’s not the prestige of how you got your position, it’s the prestige of the position itself that matters.

      At least if their beliefs are acceptable.

      1. Libertarians have principles.

        Liberals have principals.

        1. “Gold stars for everyone!”

          1. Shut it Paultard, you’ll get fiat stars and like it!

  3. But Clarence Thomas isn’t really a black man so his opinion on AA shouldn’t count.

    1. He’s a negfaux?

      1. You see, I was schooled one night by my white female professor at my mostly-white law school that if you disagreed with affirmative action, you were in favor of a “meritocracy.” Of course, since I’d never heard that word uttered before in my life, I simply nodded as if I understood what the hell she was talking about.

        1. Wait, what’s bad about a meritocracy?

          1. It discriminates against stupid people.

            1. Look, let’s not be niggardly with our true feelings.

              1. You see only the darkness in the heart of man, don’t you?

          2. After my friend later told me what it meant, that’s what I said!

  4. I am so fucking sick of people calling racial discrimination “affirmative action”. Here in California, what it amounts to is the present-day Chinese Exclusion Act. If California abolished racial discrimination in college admissions, Berkeley would probably be 80+% Asian, and there’s not a goddamned thing wrong with that.


    1. Racial quota systems are bad. Therefore, we must implement a kinder, gentler racial quota system to fix things.

      Social justice: two wrongs implemented by the right people in the right way will eventually make a right. At least if those kulak wrecker/hoarders don’t sabotage things, anyways.

      1. Two Wongs make a right?

        1. Two Wongs make a white.

      2. Bad old university days: Quotas to keep out too many Jews.

        Glorious, progressive, present day: Quotas to keep out too many Jews, whites, and Asians. Progress!

        1. + Harvard

    2. The thing about it is that race discrimination is officially illegal in California, yet it still obviously happens behind the scenes. So even if the supreme court overturns race discrimination, it will still happen at the individual college level. As long as liberalism exists, it will always happen.

    3. That’s nonsense. AA has largely been abolished in CA, especially for undergrad. Berkeley undergrad is 40% Asian.

      1. It has been abolished at public universities, but yes, and they openly complain about all the Asians.

        1. I know that. It’s just ridiculous for JCR to complain about AA at the most meritocratic system in the country. I mean, there’s 49 other state systems plus all the important private schools and he complains about… UC?!

          1. he complains about… UC?!

            It happens to be where I live.


          2. Well affirmative action at private schools shouldn’t be illegal, but yeah I find it odd to pick on the UC of all systems (though I guess he lives near Berkeley)

      2. AA has largely been abolished in CA,



        1. You’re innumerate enough to believe that Berkeley would be 80+ % Asian absent AA. You don’t get the ‘argument by assertion’ benefit.

          1. You’re innumerate

            Fuck you, you racist piece of shit.


    4. I was just looking at the published racial breakdown of my alma mater. They are over 30% minority: 7% black (which is higher than when I was there), 6% hispanic (about the same) and 17% asian (lower, I think).

  5. “Fucking niggers must fucking hang. Thank God for the sickle cell….”

    /Animal Mother

    Clarence Thomas continues to be the best of The Nine by FAR. Only one who seems to follow the Constitution and defend liberty…pretty much without fail.

    Good on ya, old man!

    1. You know who else was in the Nine?

        1. “Nein! Nein! Nein! /Herman Cain

      1. Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicole Kidman?

      2. John Fogerty?

      3. Casey at the bat?

      4. The Witch King of Angmar? or something like that.

      5. Shoeless Joe Jackson?

  6. George Will has a good column on the ruling.

    What a tangled web the court weaves when first it practices to deceive itself about what it is doing to the equal protection guarantee. The 14th Amendment stops guaranteeing equal protection when the court defers to the “experience and expertise” of public universities in fine-tuning the racial and ethnic compositions of their student bodies in order to attain a “critical mass” of certain government-approved minorities.

  7. It could be argued that “diversity” (whatever that means) doesn’t matter in the hard sciences.

    1. Diversity matters everywhere, heretic!

      1. I suppose you’re right. After all, the EE graduate students hail from *many* regions of China.

        1. My one semester of Chem E grad school the cohort included an Iranian, a Turk, a Panamanian-born Chinese woman and two white guys in addition to six actual Chinese.

    2. Only to a degree. My alma mater’s college of engineering would throw money at anything that so much as looked like it had a vagina if they studied in the engineering discipline.

      1. I think that’s everybody’s engineering alma mater.

        1. that’s true for

      2. I would throw money at a vagina.

        1. What man among us has not?

      3. Shoulda seen the publicity the one attractive white woman got in my undergrad cohort. Pretty sure FSU put her on the front of their web page in lab coat. Right next to Myron Rolle – the black football player who skipped going pro at first to be a Rhodes Scholar. Saw him on campus a couple of times. It was like seeing a unicorn.

  8. Damn Uncle Tom. He best be getting back on that porch where his liberal masters can keep an eye on him.

  9. It’s downright difficult not to admire Thomas.

    No, not Friedman.

    1. I admire Friedman, in the warped way of how did he ever sucker his bosses into paying him the obscene amounts of money for his utter nonsense.

      1. He forthrightly peddles nonsense. That’s called meeting market demand.

    2. Have you read this one?

      If you’re short on time and want the abridged version just slap yourself in the face 50 times.

  10. Thomas holds up the argument that in America, black people are welcome to sit in the front of the bus, as long as they can pass for white.

    1. Shorter dumbass: “derp”

      1. Or: “Real blacks believe in racial discrimination in their favor.”

        1. It’s not. Alice is arguing that blacks can’t be succesful unless they get special help.

          He/she is a racist piece of shit.

    2. Fuck off, you dumb cunt.

      1. Au…did u get pissed off because I’m talking the truth about our Uncle Tommy?

        1. My guess is that he is pissed off that Reason doesn’t ban your racist ass.

          I don’t know why progressives like you think Blacks are inferior and should be subservient to your rule, and frankly I don’t care. racists like you sicken me.

          1. Because permanently dependent people require the firm, loving hand of Big Brother to provide them their daily bread and dictate their actions.

            Alice, like any other Progressive, is a true believer, and viscerally hates anyone who rejects its god (the god).

            1. viscerally hates anyone who rejects its god (the STATE).

        2. Newsflash for the leftard trying to use “Uncle Tom” as a smear. You never read the fucking book, did you? Tom was a hero. He was a man of absolute integrity.


        3. Who said I’m pissed?

          Please read my original comment in the voice of Hannibal Lector.

    3. Thomas said “take you front row bus seat and shove it. I’m driving a Lexus”.

  11. SPOILER:
    The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
    Now I’m off to (watch) Wimbledon.

    1. Damn NHL, Blackhawks and affirmative action.

      1. On the bright side, #BostonWeak lost.


      Rafa lost. There, you don’t have to watch the Wimbledon highlights. Sharapova won, so did Andy Murray.

    3. I tuned in for the last 2 minutes. That was pretty hilarious as a neutral who has only watched maybe 10 total mins all season.

  12. OT: IRS Sent $7,319,518 in Refunds to One Bank Account Used by 2,706 Aliens

    Plus, $46,378,040 in Refunds to 23,994 ‘Unauthorized’ Aliens at 1 Atlanta Address

    Apparently they’ve been too busy with cracking down on non-profits interested in promoting the Constitution to notice little details like that.

    1. That’s just more evidence that any border enforcement necessarily devolves into a gestapo-esque police state.

    2. Something, something, racist. Something, something, tea party. Something, something, taxes are the price of civilization.

    1. New Age/Hipster fucks.

      1. Still though it is a successful business model.

    1. Nice. Hadn’t seen that version before. Hard to believe it’s pretty much the same band as “Five Neat Guys”

  13. I am sure Thomas regularly peruses these threads, so I will address him directly.

    “When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement,”.

    In many many cases, race definitely played a part in their advancement. In some cases, including the holder of the highest executive office in the land, it seems to be the most important factor. They have advanced without accomplishment.

    What is less discussed or popularly noted is that the same holds true for many whites. In these cases it is less about race, though that is a factor, and more about class. If you were born in the right family, went to the right school, have the right connections, then you are rewarded in spite of your lack of competence.

    Do not worry Clarence. Remarkable individuals such as yourself will always stand out and be noticed. I may disagree with you on a number of issues, but I have great respect for you. Those that rise without accomplishment simply by virtue of their race or family name, not so much.

    Character speaks for itself.

    1. Well put. Mary Jo Kapecny (sp?) Probably agrees with you too.

    2. This is true. There was a thread a few weeks ago where someone on here said they had a conversation with an admissions/financial aid officer at my school (USC) and he/she basically told them that USC admits “dumb” rich kids so they can afford to give out more scholarships and aid for smarter poor kids. And going here, I don’t find it hard to believe at all

  14. “What is less discussed or popularly noted is that the same holds true for many whites.”

    That’s because it is not lauded as official policy and a Good Thing.

    1. Unless the last name is Kennedy.

  15. lol, what a pompous windbag lol.

  16. Pursued a tough field of study.Clarence Thomas is really inspiring.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.