D.C. Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton made a shocking comment about Associate Justice Clarence Thomas this week, stating that ” We’ve got someone who proposes to be African-American on the court.” It is a shocking insult directed at Thomas and it is unworthy of Norton. It also seems to suggest that someone cannot be a true African-American if they are conservative.
The comment came in response to a question on whether President Obama would select a black nominee to replace Justice Stevens. Norton reportedly responded “We’re not sure this president is ever going to nominate another African-American to the court. [Barack Obama]’s African-American. We’ve got someone who proposes to be African-American on the court.”
One can only imagine the response if a white member said about Stevens that “we got someone who proposes to be white on the court.” There is no question that Thomas is a lightning rod for liberals, but this comment should be roundly condemned by liberals and immediately retracted by Norton. One can certainly disagree with Thomas’ writing, as I do, while preserving civility and, yes, respect in the debate. Thomas is a person with an amazing personal story. Clarence Thomas was raised in Pin Point, Georgia — a poor black town without a sewage system or paved roads. His father was a farm worker and his mother was a domestic worker who spoke Gullah as a first language. While liberals were quick to celebrate the life of Justice Sotomayor for growing up in the projects and achieving so much in her life, they appear unwilling to credit Thomas with his own amazing and difficult life, including being left homeless as a child.
It is particularly disappointing from a former Georgetown law professor. I have great respect for Delegate Norton, though we were on different sides in the D.C. Vote controversy. However, this is only the latest personal attack on Thomas that is entirely out of line.
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