(CNN)Justice Clarence Thomas‘ unconventional ideas, daring rhetoric and booming baritone have distinguished him from his Supreme Court colleagues over the past 30 years.

From the start, his image at the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings went beyond the world of the law. The 73-year-old Thomas remains a cultural icon, especially on issues of race and sex. He is an enduring subject of books, movies and all manner of political debate, related to Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment, the expectations of civil rights leaders and Thomas’ own views of racial stereotypes and constitutional conservatism. Justice Clarence Thomas: the Supreme Court's influencer  Justice Clarence Thomas: the Supreme Court's influencer  Justice Clarence Thomas: the Supreme Court's influencer Thomas himself has vividly filled in the contours of his persona over the past three decades. He remains one of the most quotable justices in court opinions, extracurricular writings and interviews. Here is a sampling of some of Thomas’ remarks on flashpoints over the past 30 years. Read MoreJustice Clarence Thomas takes part in a Supreme Court photo shoot in November 2018.Justice Clarence Thomas takes part in a Supreme Court photo shoot in November 2018. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasJustice Clarence Thomas takes part in a Supreme Court photo shoot in November 2018.Hide Caption 1 of 33Thomas is seen in a high school yearbook photo. Thomas was born June 23, 1948. He grew up in poverty in segregated Georgia.Thomas is seen in a high school yearbook photo. Thomas was born June 23, 1948. He grew up in poverty in segregated Georgia. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas is seen in a high school yearbook photo. Thomas was born June 23, 1948. He grew up in poverty in segregated Georgia.Hide Caption 2 of 33Thomas does schoolwork in another yearbook photo.Thomas does schoolwork in another yearbook photo. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas does schoolwork in another yearbook photo.Hide Caption 3 of 33Thomas was raised by his maternal grandparents as a devout Catholic. He went to the College of the Holy Cross and graduated with a degree in English literature. He then got a law degree from Yale Law School.Thomas was raised by his maternal grandparents as a devout Catholic. He went to the College of the Holy Cross and graduated with a degree in English literature. He then got a law degree from Yale Law School. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas was raised by his maternal grandparents as a devout Catholic. He went to the College of the Holy Cross and graduated with a degree in English literature. He then got a law degree from Yale Law School.Hide Caption 4 of 33In 1982, Thomas was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to become chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Before that, he was an assistant attorney general in Missouri (1974-77), an attorney for the Monsanto Corp. (1977-79), a legislative assistant to US Sen. John Danforth (1979-81), and an assistant secretary for civil rights at the US Department of Education (1981-82). In 1982, Thomas was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to become chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Before that, he was an assistant attorney general in Missouri (1974-77), an attorney for the Monsanto Corp. (1977-79), a legislative assistant to US Sen. John Danforth (1979-81), and an assistant secretary for civil rights at the US Department of Education (1981-82).  Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasIn 1982, Thomas was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to become chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Before that, he was an assistant attorney general in Missouri (1974-77), an attorney for the Monsanto Corp. (1977-79), a legislative assistant to US Sen. John Danforth (1979-81), and an assistant secretary for civil rights at the US Department of Education (1981-82). Hide Caption 5 of 33Thomas, second from left, stands with Reagan as the President addressed black appointees at the White House in 1984.Thomas, second from left, stands with Reagan as the President addressed black appointees at the White House in 1984. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas, second from left, stands with Reagan as the President addressed black appointees at the White House in 1984.Hide Caption 6 of 33Thomas sits with US President George H.W. Bush at his vacation home in 1991. Bush nominated Thomas to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. At the time, Thomas was a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.Thomas sits with US President George H.W. Bush at his vacation home in 1991. Bush nominated Thomas to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. At the time, Thomas was a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas sits with US President George H.W. Bush at his vacation home in 1991. Bush nominated Thomas to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. At the time, Thomas was a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.Hide Caption 7 of 33Thomas walks down the steps of the US Capitol after meeting with members of Congress in July 1991.Thomas walks down the steps of the US Capitol after meeting with members of Congress in July 1991. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas walks down the steps of the US Capitol after meeting with members of Congress in July 1991.Hide Caption 8 of 33Thomas is sworn in for his Senate confirmation hearings, which turned out to be contentious. Two days before the scheduled Senate vote, it was reported that law professor Anita Hill had made allegations of sexual harassment against Thomas. The vote was then delayed for a week after Thomas asked for time to clear his name and bolster support for his nomination.Thomas is sworn in for his Senate confirmation hearings, which turned out to be contentious. Two days before the scheduled Senate vote, it was reported that law professor Anita Hill had made allegations of sexual harassment against Thomas. The vote was then delayed for a week after Thomas asked for time to clear his name and bolster support for his nomination. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas is sworn in for his Senate confirmation hearings, which turned out to be contentious. Two days before the scheduled Senate vote, it was reported that law professor Anita Hill had made allegations of sexual harassment against Thomas. The vote was then delayed for a week after Thomas asked for time to clear his name and bolster support for his nomination.Hide Caption 9 of 33Thomas faces a Senate committee on the first day of his confirmation hearings.Thomas faces a Senate committee on the first day of his confirmation hearings. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas faces a Senate committee on the first day of his confirmation hearings.Hide Caption 10 of 33US Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, meets with members of Thomas' family prior to the start of a hearing in September 1991. From left is Thomas' wife, Virginia; his son, Jamal; his mother, Leola; and his sister Emma Mae.US Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, meets with members of Thomas' family prior to the start of a hearing in September 1991. From left is Thomas' wife, Virginia; his son, Jamal; his mother, Leola; and his sister Emma Mae. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasUS Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, meets with members of Thomas’ family prior to the start of a hearing in September 1991. From left is Thomas’ wife, Virginia; his son, Jamal; his mother, Leola; and his sister Emma Mae.Hide Caption 11 of 33During the confirmation hearings, Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked with him at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She said Thomas frequently asked her out on dates and described his sexual interests to her. Thomas denied the allegations during his testimony.During the confirmation hearings, Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked with him at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She said Thomas frequently asked her out on dates and described his sexual interests to her. Thomas denied the allegations during his testimony. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasDuring the confirmation hearings, Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked with him at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She said Thomas frequently asked her out on dates and described his sexual interests to her. Thomas denied the allegations during his testimony.Hide Caption 12 of 33Bush meets with Thomas in October 1991 and reaffirms his "total confidence" in the Supreme Court nominee.Bush meets with Thomas in October 1991 and reaffirms his "total confidence" in the Supreme Court nominee. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasBush meets with Thomas in October 1991 and reaffirms his “total confidence” in the Supreme Court nominee.Hide Caption 13 of 33Thomas leaves his Alexandria, Virginia, home with his wife in October 1991.Thomas leaves his Alexandria, Virginia, home with his wife in October 1991. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas leaves his Alexandria, Virginia, home with his wife in October 1991.Hide Caption 14 of 33Thomas speaks to the press after the Senate confirmed his appointment by a vote of 52-48.Thomas speaks to the press after the Senate confirmed his appointment by a vote of 52-48. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas speaks to the press after the Senate confirmed his appointment by a vote of 52-48.Hide Caption 15 of 33Thomas is sworn in to the Supreme Court by Justice Byron White. Joining him is his wife, the President and first lady Barbara Bush.Thomas is sworn in to the Supreme Court by Justice Byron White. Joining him is his wife, the President and first lady Barbara Bush. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas is sworn in to the Supreme Court by Justice Byron White. Joining him is his wife, the President and first lady Barbara Bush.Hide Caption 16 of 33Thomas joins the rest of the Supreme Court justices in November 1991.Thomas joins the rest of the Supreme Court justices in November 1991. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas joins the rest of the Supreme Court justices in November 1991.Hide Caption 17 of 33Thomas talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in November 1991.Thomas talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in November 1991. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in November 1991.Hide Caption 18 of 33Thomas and his wife, Virginia, in 1991. The two married in 1987. Thomas had been married once before.Thomas and his wife, Virginia, in 1991. The two married in 1987. Thomas had been married once before. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas and his wife, Virginia, in 1991. The two married in 1987. Thomas had been married once before.Hide Caption 19 of 33Members of the Supreme Court pose for a formal portrait in December 1991. In the back row, from left, are David Souter, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Thomas. Seated from left are John Paul Stevens, Byron White, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Harry Blackmun and Sandra Day O'Connor.Members of the Supreme Court pose for a formal portrait in December 1991. In the back row, from left, are David Souter, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Thomas. Seated from left are John Paul Stevens, Byron White, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Harry Blackmun and Sandra Day O'Connor. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasMembers of the Supreme Court pose for a formal portrait in December 1991. In the back row, from left, are David Souter, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Thomas. Seated from left are John Paul Stevens, Byron White, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Harry Blackmun and Sandra Day O’Connor.Hide Caption 20 of 33Thomas shakes hands with Donald Trump while serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 in 1999.Thomas shakes hands with Donald Trump while serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 in 1999. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas shakes hands with Donald Trump while serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500 in 1999.Hide Caption 21 of 33Thomas sits in his chambers with three of his clerks in 2002.Thomas sits in his chambers with three of his clerks in 2002. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas sits in his chambers with three of his clerks in 2002.Hide Caption 22 of 33Thomas speaks at a Heritage Foundation luncheon in 2007.Thomas speaks at a Heritage Foundation luncheon in 2007. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas speaks at a Heritage Foundation luncheon in 2007.Hide Caption 23 of 33Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, DC, shakes hands with Thomas in 2015.Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, DC, shakes hands with Thomas in 2015. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasCardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, DC, shakes hands with Thomas in 2015.Hide Caption 24 of 33Thomas speaks at the memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.Thomas speaks at the memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas speaks at the memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.Hide Caption 25 of 33President Donald Trump shakes Thomas' hand at his inauguration in 2017.President Donald Trump shakes Thomas' hand at his inauguration in 2017. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasPresident Donald Trump shakes Thomas’ hand at his inauguration in 2017.Hide Caption 26 of 33Thomas and other Supreme Court justices attend the White House ceremony where newest member Neil Gorsuch was taking his judicial oath in 2017.Thomas and other Supreme Court justices attend the White House ceremony where newest member Neil Gorsuch was taking his judicial oath in 2017. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas and other Supreme Court justices attend the White House ceremony where newest member Neil Gorsuch was taking his judicial oath in 2017.Hide Caption 27 of 33The Supreme Court poses for a portrait in November 2018. In the back row, from left, are Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh. In the front, from left, are Stephen Breyer, Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito.The Supreme Court poses for a portrait in November 2018. In the back row, from left, are Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh. In the front, from left, are Stephen Breyer, Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThe Supreme Court poses for a portrait in November 2018. In the back row, from left, are Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh. In the front, from left, are Stephen Breyer, Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito.Hide Caption 28 of 33Members of the Supreme Court pause in front of the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the US Capitol Rotunda in 2018.Members of the Supreme Court pause in front of the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the US Capitol Rotunda in 2018. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasMembers of the Supreme Court pause in front of the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the US Capitol Rotunda in 2018.Hide Caption 29 of 33Thomas and his wife, Virginia, arrive at the White House for a state dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September 2019.Thomas and his wife, Virginia, arrive at the White House for a state dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September 2019. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas and his wife, Virginia, arrive at the White House for a state dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September 2019.Hide Caption 30 of 33Thomas leaves the podium after making a keynote address at the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta in February 2020.Thomas leaves the podium after making a keynote address at the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta in February 2020. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas leaves the podium after making a keynote address at the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta in February 2020.Hide Caption 31 of 33Thomas, seated second from left, poses with his colleagues during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC in April 2021.Thomas, seated second from left, poses with his colleagues during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC in April 2021. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasThomas, seated second from left, poses with his colleagues during a group photo of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC in April 2021.Hide Caption 32 of 33Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21 in Washington, DC. Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21 in Washington, DC. Photos: Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasJustice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21 in Washington, DC. Hide Caption 33 of 3301 clarence thomas supreme court FILE PHOTO02 clarence thomas yearbook portrait 03 clarence thomas yearbook04 clarence thomas yearbook portrait05 clarence thomas EEOC and UAW. RESTRICTED 06 clarence thomas ronald reagan RESTRICTED RESTRICTED 07 clarence thomas UNFURLED08 judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO RESTRICTED 09 judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO RESTRICTED RESTRICTED 10 clarence thomas UNFURLED12 judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO 11 judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO RESTRICTED 13  judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO RESTRICTED 14 judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO15 judge clarence thomas FILE PHOTO RESTRICTED 16 clarence thomas UNFURLEDRESTRICTED 17 clarence thomas UNFURLED18 clarence thomas UNFURLED19 clarence thomas UNFURLED20 clarence thomas UNFURLED21 clarence thomas UNFURLEDRESTRICTED 22 clarence thomas UNFURLEDRESTRICTED 23 clarence thomas UNFURLED24 clarence thomas UNFURLED25 clarence thomas UNFURLED26 clarence thomas UNFURLED27 clarence thomas UNFURLED28 clarence thomas UNFURLED29 clarence thomas UNFURLED30 clarence thomas UNFURLED31 clarence thomas UNFURLEDSCOTUS Justices 202132 clarence thomas unfurledRaceThomas is the second African American to serve on the country’s highest court. He succeeded the first, Thurgood Marshall, a pioneering civil rights advocate, but shunned his predecessor’s liberal mantle and support for racial remedies. Yet Thomas has demonstrated that “race is a core issue” for him, as he told as he told a 2020 audience. It emerges in his personal outlook and his legal emphasis. In his 2007 memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son,” Thomas said he found that a law degree from Yale was different for White and Black students because of “the stigmatizing effects of racial preferences.” Stephen Breyer says now isn't the time to lose faith in the Supreme CourtStephen Breyer says now isn't the time to lose faith in the Supreme CourtStephen Breyer says now isn't the time to lose faith in the Supreme Court“I knew I’d made a mistake in going to Yale,” he wrote. “I felt as though I’d been tricked, that some of the people who claimed to be helping me were in fact hurting me. … At least southerners were up front about their bigotry: you knew exactly where they were coming from, just like the Georgia rattlesnakes that always let you know when they were ready to strike. Not so the paternalistic big-city whites who offered you a helping hand so long as you were careful to agree with them, but slapped you down if you started acting as if you didn’t know your place.” Thomas’ experience and ideas about the limits of the Constitution have influenced his ideas as a justice. He opposes government remedies, such as affirmative action. “I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators,” he wrote as he dissented in the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger involving a University of Michigan program boosting the chances of minority applicants to the law school. “The Constitution does not … tolerate institutional devotion to the status quo in admissions policies when such devotion ripens into racial discrimination. …. The Law School is not looking for those students who, despite a lower LSAT score or undergraduate grade point average, will succeed in the study of law. The Law School seeks only a facade–it is sufficient that the class looks right, even if it does not perform right. The Law School tantalizes unprepared students with the promise of a University of Michigan degree and all of the opportunities that it offers.” Soon after his high court appointment, Thomas laid out arguments that judges had too broadly construed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Dissension at the Supreme Court as justices take their anger public Dissension at the Supreme Court as justices take their anger public Dissension at the Supreme Court as justices take their anger public “(W)e have devised a remedial mechanism that encourages federal courts to segregate voters into racially designated districts to ensure minority electoral success. In doing so, we have collaborated in what may aptly be termed the racial ‘balkanization’ of the Nation,” Thomas wrote in the 1994 case of Holder v. Hall. “… If one surveys the history of the Voting Rights Act, one can only be struck by the sea change that has occurred in the application and enforcement of the Act since it was passed in 1965. The statute was originally perceived as a remedial provision directed specifically at eradicating discriminatory practices that restricted blacks’ ability to register and vote in the segregated South. Now, the Act has grown into something entirely different. … (W)e have converted the Act into a device for regulating, rationing, and apportioning political power among racial and ethnic groups.” In a separate vein, Thomas has responded passionately to America’s history of lynching and cross-burning. During 2002 oral arguments in a controversy over a Virginia law against cross-burning, he told a government lawyer, “My fear is … that you’re actually understating the symbolism of and the effect of the cross, the burning cross. And I think that what you’re attempting to do is to fit this into our (First Amendment) jurisprudence rather than stating more clearly what the cross was intended to accomplish and, indeed, that it is unlike any symbol in our society. … There was no communication of a particular message. It was intended to cause fear and to terrorize a population.” When the court issued its opinion in Virginia v. Black the next year, Thomas wrote, “In every culture, certain things acquire meaning well beyond what outsiders can comprehend. That goes for both the sacred and the profane. I believe that cross burning is the paradigmatic example of the latter.” The response to Anita Hill and other personal criticism When law professor Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexually harassing her when she worked for him, Thomas returned to race during his Senate confirmation hearing. “From my standpoint as a Black American, as far as I am concerned, it is high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you,” Thomas said. “You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the US Senate, rather than hung from a tree.” In a 2020 documentary, “Created Equal,” in which he fully participated, Thomas repeated his racial defense against the accusations of Hill, who is also Black: “Come on, we know what this is all about: This is the wrong Black guy. He has to be destroyed.” 'There is no perfect victim': Anita Hill refuses to believe a myth that lets perpetrators off the hook'There is no perfect victim': Anita Hill refuses to believe a myth that lets perpetrators off the hook'There is no perfect victim': Anita Hill refuses to believe a myth that lets perpetrators off the hookIn one of his most emotional public speeches, Thomas in 1998 broadly addressed criticism he has experienced from traditional civil rights groups. “It pains me deeply, more deeply than any of you can imagine, to be perceived by so many members of my race as doing them harm,” he told the National Bar Association, a predominantly Black organization. “All the sacrifice, all the long hours of preparation were to help, not to hurt … Isn’t it time to move on? Isn’t it time to realize that being angry with me solves no problems? Isn’t it time to acknowledge that the problem of race has defied simple solutions, and that not one of us, not a single one of us, can lay claim to the solution?” Constitutional conservatism Thomas, the most conservative justice, is a committed practitioner of “originalism,” which looks to an understanding of the Constitution at its 18th Century origins. But Thomas, across a range of issues, is arguably the most provocative. He began that way, with no-hedge, no-handwringing opinions. In the 1992 case of Hudson v. McMillian, he dissented as the majority sided with a prisoner who had been beaten by guards while shackled. They broke his teeth and dental plate. In rejecting the prisoner’s Eighth Amendment claim, Thomas was joined only by Justice Antonin Scalia: “In my view, a use of force that causes only insignificant harm to a prisoner may be immoral, it may be tortious, it may be criminal, and it may even be remediable under other provisions of the Federal Constitution, but it is not cruel and unusual punishment. … Surely prison was not a more congenial place in the early years of the Republic than it is today; nor were our judges and commentators so naive as to be unaware of the often harsh conditions of prison life. Rather, they simply did not conceive of the Eighth Amendment as protecting inmates from harsh treatment. Thus, historically, the lower courts routinely rejected prisoner grievances by explaining that the courts had no role in regulating prison life.” Clarence Thomas calls for review of landmark libel case Clarence Thomas calls for review of landmark libel case Clarence Thomas calls for review of landmark libel case JUST WATCHEDClarence Thomas calls for review of landmark libel case ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Clarence Thomas calls for review of landmark libel case 03:20A New York Times editorial condemning his position was headlined, “The Youngest, Cruelest Justice.” Thomas responded to some of the fallout from that decision in 1998 before the group of Black lawyers. “I, for one, have been singled out for particularly bilious and venomous assaults. … The principal problem seems to be a deeper antecedent offense. I have no right to think the way I do because I’m Black. Though the ideas and opinions themselves are not necessarily illegitimate if held by non-Black individuals … One opinion that is trotted out for the propaganda parade is my dissent in Hudson v. McMillian. The conclusion reached by the long arms of the critics is that I supported the beating of prisoners in that case. Well, one must either be illiterate or fraught with malice to reach that conclusion… . Indeed, we took the case to decide the quite narrow issue, whether a prisoner’s rights were violated under the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment as the result of a single incident of force by the prison guards which did not cause a significant injury. … Obviously, beating prisoners is bad, but we did not take the case to answer this larger moral question.” More than a decade later, asked before a different audience at a 2020 Federalist Society event, Thomas adopted a lighter stance. He laughed when US appellate Judge Gregory Katsas, who was a law clerk for Thomas that first court session, asked about the New York Times’ “youngest, cruelest” line. “I liked that,” Thomas quipped, as he referred to a long-running TV soap opera, “because it sounds like ‘The Young and the Restless,’ brought to you by Tide.” Beyond his view that the Eighth Amendment should be constrained, Thomas has been most vocal in calling for the reversal of constitutional precedent on abortion rights, the separation of church and state and protections for a free press. In 2019, he raised states’ interest “in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics.” How the Supreme Court crafted its Roe v. Wade decision and what it means today How the Supreme Court crafted its Roe v. Wade decision and what it means today How the Supreme Court crafted its Roe v. Wade decision and what it means today “The use of abortion to achieve eugenic goals is not merely hypothetical,” he contended in a concurring opinion as the justices declined to take up whether Indiana could prohibit abortions when a physician knows a woman seeks the procedure because of a fetal disability, its race or sex. “The foundations for legalizing abortion in America were laid during the early 20th-century birth-control movement,” Thomas wrote. “That movement developed alongside the American eugenics movement. … Technological advances have only heightened the eugenic potential for abortion, as abortion can now be used to eliminate concurring children with unwanted characteristics, such as a particular sex or disability. Given the potential for abortion to become a tool of eugenic manipulation, the Court will soon need to confront the constitutionality of laws like Indiana’s.” Relations in the Marble Palace Thomas wrote alone in the Indiana abortion case, separating himself from colleagues on the law, as often happens. But Thomas has expressed fondness for fellow justices even in disagreement. He describes the internal debate on cases as “a model of civility.” In his writings, Thomas refrains from the personal shots that others sometimes take. Despite his rocky early years, Thomas continues to speak fondly of the court in those days under Chief Justice William Rehnquist, with whom he served until Rehnquist’s death in 2005. He recalled in 2020 that when he expressed doubts about the task he faced to Rehnquist, the chief justice told him, “Clarence, your first five years, you wonder how you got here. After that, you wonder how your colleagues got here.” Another abortion challenge for John Roberts and the Supreme CourtAnother abortion challenge for John Roberts and the Supreme CourtAnother abortion challenge for John Roberts and the Supreme CourtThomas and Scalia, who served from 1986 until his 2016 death, were ideological soulmates and especially good friends. Thomas told me in a 2009 interview: “He loves opera. I prefer blues or jazz. We’re different. I’m a (Nebraska) Cornhuskers’ fan. I don’t think he even watches sports.” Thomas’ wife, Ginni, is from Nebraska, and Thomas has long rooted for the state’s college teams. As for professional football, Thomas made his allegiance clear in 1991 when, after spinning a metaphor involving referees, he told senators, “I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan for 25 years.””We’re just different,” Thomas continued as he talked to me about Scalia. “We happen to be going in the same direction in the same cases, so we run into each other a lot.” At a memorial service for Scalia in 2016, Thomas recalled that the two were often alone in their views and criticized: “There were many buck-each-other-up visits. Too many to count. … And there were calls to test an idea or work through a problem. … I loved the eagerness and satisfaction in his voice when he finished a writing of which he was particularly pleased, ‘Clarence, you have got to hear this. It is really good.’ Whereupon, he would deliver a dramatic reading, after fumbling with his computer for a while.”In a separate interview with me regarding Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Thomas recounted getting beyond an early conflict they had regarding standards for prisoners seeking a writ of habeas corpus to challenge their cases. It was an area of the law that O’Connor, appointed a decade earlier in 1981, had been taking a lead. The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, courtesy votes and the unwritten 6-vote rule The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, courtesy votes and the unwritten 6-vote rule The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, courtesy votes and the unwritten 6-vote rule Rehnquist had assigned the court’s opinion in the 1992 case of Wright v. West to Thomas. O’Connor agreed with his bottom-line judgment against the prisoner challenging his conviction but declined to sign on to Thomas’ reasoning. She offered a sharply worded, point-by-point critique of Thomas’ position that she believed went too far in restricting prisoner appeals. When I asked Thomas about those negotiations, he recalled O’Connor’s attitude without rancor, “At first I thought, ‘Whoa, she’s a tough cookie.’ … But they had been working on these (habeas corpus) problems for years and I come marching in like this.'” Thomas pumped his arms vigorously. He added: “I was the new kid on the block. I was brash. … I just took it like the rookie football player who gets clobbered by the linebacker: ‘Welcome to the NFL.'”

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