Clarence Thomas: A Silent Justice Speaks Out

"Senator Heflin's friends in the media liked to describe his manner as 'courtly,' but now it made me think of a slave owner sitting on the porch of a plantation house," Thomas wrote.

Thomas answered questions for 90 minutes, and with every question — about sex, pornography, his private parts — he wrote that he "felt dirtier and dirtier." He does not discuss that in the book, writing, "I have no intention of repeating the dirty details here." He wrote he "had talked about X-rated movies when I was at Yale — but so had many other young people in seventies."

"Those were the days when Deep Throat was one of the most-talked about movies in America," Thomas wrote. "Of course, it had been immature of me even to mention such films, but I was immature like many other students."

But Thomas saw his opponents make the case that because he had watched pornography, must also be a harasser. And it seems to have been more galling that, he wrote, he knew of "at least one senator sitting in judgment of me against whom accusations of sexual improprieties had been leveled that made Anita's charges look mild."

"It was the most inhumane thing that has happened to me. Now what I blame myself for is that I should have known they would do that. I had read Richard Wright. I had read Outsider, Black Boy, Native Son," Thomas says. "I should have known that the… individual counts very little when an ideology is put in place like that."

"In other words, I'm not their puppet. It's obvious. That's the whole point Ralph Ellison tries to make with Invisible Man," Thomas says. "And that's something I think maybe my grandfather feared."

Four days later, the Senate voted to confirm Thomas to the Supreme Court, by the narrowest margin in history, 52-48. Thomas was home when the Senate voted, and Virginia asked if he wanted to listen to the roll call. "Absolutely not," he responded. "I don't care what they do."

He decided to take a long hot bath to relax, and he was in the tub when Virginia's assistant called. Virginia hung up the phone, went into the bathroom and told Thomas he had been confirmed.

"'Whoop-dee-damn-doo,' I said, sliding deeper into the comforting water," Thomas wrote of the conversation. "Mere confirmation, even to the Supreme Court, seemed pitifully small compensation for what had been done to me."

To continue on to Part VIII: Rebuilding a Life, please click here.

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