The U.S. Supreme Court is handing down a decision this term on whether colleges can consider applicants’ race as a factor in admissions.While many people have strong feelings about affirmative action, one Supreme Court justice has been more vocal than the rest about his opposition to race preferences.
Clarence Thomas, who’s known for being virtually mute during oral arguments, came out in 2007 to attack his alma mater Yale Law School and its affirmative action policies.
In his memoir and in an interview with ABC News, Thomas argued that what he called the stigmatizing effects of affirmative action put him at a huge disadvantage when he was trying to find work as a lawyer.
Thomas said he went on interviews with one “high-priced lawyer” after another who didn’t take him seriously because they thought he got special treatment.
“Many asked pointed questions, unsubtly suggesting they doubted I was as smart as my grades indicated,” Thomas told ABC News.
Affirmative action also made him miserable while he was actually attending the law school, Thomas writes in his book, according to the Yale Daily News.
“At least southerners were up front about their bigotry: You knew exactly where they were coming from,” he says in the book. “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 also famously appraised his law degree as being worth 15 cents.
While there’s evidence Thomas began to mend his relationship with Yale itself, it’s pretty clear which side Clarence Thomas will come down on in the affirmative action case to be decided this term.
The court’s other conservatives are likely to vote with Thomas and Kennedy against affirmative action, though Chief Justice John Roberts has been known to surprise us.
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