by Brian Flood , Nikolas Lanum
Justice Thomas has been a target since the Reagan administration
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been the subject of sharp attacks throughout his tenure, but his opinion concurring with the majority that overturned Roe v. Wade last week has whipped his critics into a frenzy and put a spotlight on a decades-long trend.
"The mainstream liberal media hates Clarence Thomas. Water is wet, news at 11. The demonization of Thomas always has been bad, but has become even more pernicious in light of the Supreme Court's abortion decision," Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson told Fox News Digital.
"Thomas did not author the majority Opinion, but has received much more focus and hate than Samuel Alito, who was the author. Thomas also has been the subject of racial slurs, including by the likes of actor Samuel L. Jackson, who referred to Thomas as ‘Uncle Clarence,’" Jacobson added. "This is a continuation of a decades-long liberal attack on Thomas that is highly radicalized."
Indeed, Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson called the justice "Uncle Clarence," in a tweet on Saturday, echoing the same slur that MSNBC’s Joy Reid used in 2020. Shock jock Howard Stern called Thomas a "lightweight" who was "sitting there like Darth Vader, dormant, waiting for other kooks to join the Supreme Court."
Thomas has been a target of the left since the Reagan administration and was memorably accused of sexual harassment that year by Anita Hill while he supervised her at the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In one of the most wrenching confirmation processes in modern history, Thomas staunchly denied Hill's claims and went on to be narrowly confirmed.
On PBS in 1994, the political commentator Julianne Malveaux said of Thomas: "I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early, like many Black men do, of heart disease." She eventually apologized, but frequent and brutal criticism of Thomas hasn’t slowed down. He’s been compared to the Ku Klux Klan, depicted in a racially charged cartoon and regularly referred to as "Uncle Tom," and that was before his opinion concurring with the majority that overturned Roe v. Wade last week.
Michael Eric Dyson, a longtime MSNBC commentator, said in 2015 that he believed more Black people support Rachel Dolezal over Justice Thomas. Dolezal is a former college instructor and activist who gained infamy for presenting herself as a Black woman, despite the fact she is White. After backlash, Dolezal said she "identified" as Black and admitted to using hair and skin darkening treatments.
Thomas wrote that past Supreme Court decisions affirming the rights to same-sex marriage and married couples using contraception should be revisited, due to their similar legal bases to Roe. Liberal pundits, hosts and columnist has since turned their sights back on Thomas – putting a spotlight on something they have been doing for years.
NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss accused Thomas of "anger and revenge" in a tweet on Monday.
"Language of SCOTUS decision on Roe has an ominous tone of anger and revenge — especially Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion," Beschloss tweeted.
"The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg berated Thomas’ concurring opinion and suggested the GOP might "come for" him.
"As Clarence Thomas is signaling, they would like to get rid of contraception," Goldberg said. "Do you understand, sir? No- because you don't have to use it… you better hope that they don't come for you, Clarence, and say that you should not be married to your wife, who happens to be White, because they will move that."
In January, Goldberg's co-host Sunny Hostin, when discussing who should be the next nominee to the Supreme Court, said that current Justice Thomas "doesn't really represent the Black community."
Former U.S. Senator-turned-podcast host Al Franken appeared to criticize Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas, who is a conservative activist, by tweeting that the justice’s "conflicts of interest" should be revisited.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about "The Radical Reign of Clarence Thomas" in a column that essentially criticized every step of his career.
"On the court he has been cruel, pushing opinions that would grind down the poor and underprivileged," Dowd wrote. "The court is out of control. We feel powerless to do anything about it. Clarence Thomas, of all people, has helped lead us to where we are, with unaccountable extremists dictating how we live. And that is revolting."
Mark Paoletta, co-author of "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words," believes liberals and many corporate media members "hate" Justice Thomas because he is a Black conservative who dares to have his own views.
"The left believes you are required to hold certain views based on the color of your skin. They hate Thomas because he has never bowed to their demands," Paoletta told Fox News Digital. "They have tried to destroy him, tried to marginalize him, and thirty years later, he is not just standing strong, his influence is at its zenith. The left is really enraged they have not been able to make him bow."
Paoletta said that Thomas "exposes the utter racism of the left" when celebrities, pundits and politicians get triggered by him. The author also noted that Thomas himself touched on the subject when speaking in an interview for his new book.
"He talks about the left’s attacks on him, and particularly the attacks from the pro-abortion groups, made up mostly of rich white women, ‘This is the wrong black guy. He has to be destroyed,’" Paoletta said.
Fox News contributor Joe Concha believes liberals need a "boogeyman" with Trump out of office and Justice Thomas checks all the boxes necessary, but the strategy is getting stale.
"It’s easier to attack someone on a patently racist level the way Clarence Thomas has been attacked then to make adult and sober arguments on the merits of states' rights and the Roe v. Wade decision in general, a decision that even Ruth Bader Ginsberg wasn’t a big fan of," Concha told Fox News Digital.
"The problem for Democrats and their allies in the media is that when they go full hyperbole up to 14 on a scale of 1 to 10, whether that be on not passing so-called voting rights putting democracy at risk or not blowing up the filibuster puts democracy at risk, or this recent ruling by the Supreme Court puts democracy at risk," Concha continued. "After a while people gonna start turning that out. And most already are."
DePauw University journalism professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall agrees that "Abortion activists and partisan Democrats are eager to portray Justice Thomas as a sort of boogeyman" and feels that establishment media outlets are happy to participate in the "smear campaign."
"The producers and reporters of those outlets generally agree with that portrayal of Justice Thomas, so they allow themselves to be used, giving voice to the angriest Thomas critics and antagonists," McCall told Fox News Digital.
"This anti-Thomas reporting is largely lacking in perspective. Little of the reporting has actually delved into Thomas’ legal reasoning or his writings. The reporting has been characterized largely by emotion and anger, and has featured little legal analysis," McCall continued. "Even if the establishment media disagree with Justice Thomas, professional standards should dictate that news coverage should be based on civility and careful, accurate reasoning. It is sad that the establishment media can’t bring themselves to follow such an ethical standard."
The media’s allies in the Democratic Party have also attacked Justice Thomas, including Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot's vulgar "F--- Clarence Thomas" remark at a pride event in Chicago over the weekend.
"This is very, very upsetting. The profanity she used at Clarence Thomas justifies why the Supreme Court justices need protection 24/7. You know what she did? She sent a coded message by using the F-word, by saying, 'hey, I don't care what happens to him. I don't care. I don't care about his security. I don't care about his safety,'" Fox News contributor Leo Terrell said Tuesday on "FOX & Friends."
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre ripped Justice Thomas, calling the opinion his "opinion" during an appearance on MSNBC.
"What he wrote is absolutely chilling," she told Nicolle Wallace. "If that were to happen, Nicolle, that would, for sure, for sure, change this country for decades, I mean, change it by generations… I can’t think of a more dangerous agenda to put forth."
2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has also singled out Thomas during a recent interview on CBS’ morning program. Clinton earned her Juris Doctorate at Yale Law School in 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was decided, and one year before Thomas did in 1974.
"He's been a person of grievance for as long as I've known him," Clinton said." "Resentment, grievance, anger. And he has signaled in the past to lower courts, to state legislatures, find cases, pass laws, get them up. I may not win the first, the second, or the third time, but we're going to keep at it."
Mollie Hemingway noticed a clip of Clinton’s comments on Twitter and scolded the former Secretary of State for painting him as an "angry Black man" when criticizing the justice.
"Have always found the left's use of this racist stereotype against Clarence Thomas of ‘angry black man’ to be ludicrous. The man is serious and brilliant, yes, but extremely well known for his exceeding kindness and joie de vivre," Hemingway wrote.
Paoletta believes liberals get away with racism directed at the justice.
"Justice Thomas in our new book says, ‘Among the liberal elite, they smile in your face, but they feel exactly the same way the guy feels with the ‘No Colored Allowed,’" Paoletta said, noting that Thomas has thick skin.
"The haters are going to hate. The racists are going to be racist. They don’t bother him. He does not care about them," Paoletta said.
In his opinion, Thomas speculated that the overturning of Roe would provide a blueprint for revisiting years' worth of decisions that he says are "demonstrably erroneous."
"After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated," Thomas wrote.
Thomas joined Justices Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito in overturning Roe v. Wade in their decision affirming Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the majority in upholding the Mississippi law but didn't concur with overturning the Roe decision.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Cortney O’Brien, David Rutz and Timothy H.J. Nerozzi contributed to this report.
Brian Flood , Nikolas Lanum
Brian Flood is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to email@example.com and on Twitter: @briansflood.