Law Professor Wants Us To Leave The ‘I HATE BLACK PEOPLE’ Supreme Court Alone

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas And Kennedy Testify Before House

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Ever since news broke that Crystal Clanton has been hired as one of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s law clerks, people have been talking about it. And it’s not just because the hiring for the über-prestigious post is a frequent subject of gossip. No, it’s because Clanton is an infamous figure, pushed out of the far-right Turning Point USA when a racist text she’d authored became public.

That’s right, Clanton used to work at conservative student group Turning Point USA. But then in 2017, reports surfaced that she texted coworkers, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.” And, just like that, she was forced out at Turning Point USA. There were more reports of bigoted comments from Clanton, but she managed to bounce back with a job with Ginni Thomas (Clarence’s wife). Clanton even moved in with the Thomases once, under Ginni’s wing. She then was admitted to ASSLaw — otherwise known as George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, for the uninitiated. From there, she was able to secure clerkships with Judge Corey Maze of the Northern District of Alabama, the Eleventh Circuit’s Judge William Pryor, and now with her former roommate, Justice Clarence Thomas.

But in the pages of Slate, Northwestern Law professor Steven Lubet is urging folks be nicer to Clanton. Lubet suggests the racist texts be seen as youthful indiscretion, writing, “the abhorrent text may even have been the result of a lapse that did not dictate the rest of her adult behavior. ” And that “Whatever caused Clanton to send her deeply offensive text, she evidently overcame any prejudices to the satisfaction of Justice Thomas.”

Yeah…. virulent racism isn’t on the same “kids will be kids” level as say, breaking curfew.

It might feel nice to paint this as a redemption arc, but that’s just not what happened here. As Lubet is forced to admit, Clanton’s public comments about being called out for her racism are less than forthcoming:

Without denying that she’d sent the text, Clanton somewhat implausibly claimed that she had “no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.”

And that’s been the grand total of her comments on the matter. No apology, no mea culpa, no donation to the NAACP, no cobbled-together explanation on the Notes app. If Clanton hasn’t given the world any reason to suggest she’s grown from the person who wrote “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE,” why should we treat her like she has?

Why? Because Clarence Thomas is satisfied that Clanton is a good person? This guy? Thomas’s time on the Court has been marked by gutting civil rights protections from voting rights to affirmative action. Seriously, the guy who called  school integration “hypersensitivity to elite sensibilities,” and compared affirmative action to slavery? That guy should be the arbiter? That dog won’t hunt, monsignor.

Lubet ends his piece by entreating liberals to be the bigger person, “Donald Trump’s Republicans have abandoned decency as a value, with no concern for collateral damage. Liberals could set a far better example by allowing Crystal Clanton to get on with her life.” Listen: I’m all for being better than Republicans — but an actual apology would be nice.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon


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