Over a hundred former clerks of Justice Thomas defend his integrity and independence in an open letter

August 31, 2023

Over one hundred former clerks of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended him in an open letter, according to a report from Fox News

This came after recent accusations that Thomas had violated court ethics guidelines The clerks' letter stated that his "integrity is unimpeachable" and "his independence is unshakable."

"As his law clerks, we offer this response. Different paths led us to our year with Justice Thomas, and we have followed different paths since," the letter reads.

"But along the way, we all saw with our own eyes the same thing: His integrity is unimpeachable," the letter reads.

"And his independence is unshakable, deeply rooted seven decades ago as that young child who walked through the door of his grandparents’ house for a life forever changed," they went on.

The Letter's Authors

Included among the 112 signatories are current solicitors general, general counsels, litigation firm partners, and law professors.

The letter was also signed by three circuit court judges: David Stras of the 8th Circuit, Jim Ho of the 5th Circuit, and Allison Rushing of the 4th Circuit.

The attorneys described Justice Thomas' upbringing, stating that he was "descended from West African slaves and born to a young mother, not more than 20, in segregated Georgia."

"His father left. And a fire took all he had and the shack where he lived," they described.

The clerks described how, as a child, Thomas packed all of his possessions into "a half-filled paper grocery bag" to move in with his grandparents, who enrolled him in a segregated Catholic school operated by Irish nuns.

Intent on becoming a cleric, Thomas completed his education at a seminary. "He was at times the only black seminarian among a sea of white faces," they wrote.

"Then came 1968. King was assassinated. Then Kennedy. It transformed him. He left behind hopes of the priesthood. He found Black Power. He wrote about revolution. He protested," they described.

"He went to law school. He became a father. He worked for legal aid. He saw forced busing and violence and insolence in South Boston. He devoted himself to doing better for his son. He took the road less traveled," the lawyers wrote.

What the Authors Experienced

Former clerks described having a "front-row seat" to Thomas at work, describing him as "a man of the greatest intellect, faith, and patriotism."

"He is a man of unwavering principle. He welcomes the lone dissent. He is also a man of great humor and warmth and generosity. Walk the halls, and you’ll hear his laugh. Call, and he answers," they said.

"His grandfather’s sayings become our sayings. His chambers become our chambers – a place fueled by unstoppable curiosity and unreturned library books, all to get every case just right," they stated, adding that his chambers "become a way station" for other justices’ clerks too.

"And yet, the stories most often told of Justice Thomas are not these. The Justice is ever the subject of political headlines taking aim at his character, his judicial philosophy, his marriage, even his race. They attempt to write over his actual story," the former clerks charged.

"Lately, the stories have questioned his integrity and his ethics for the friends he keeps. They bury the lede. These friends are not parties before him as a Justice of the Court. And these stories are malicious, perpetuating the ugly assumption that the Justice cannot think for himself," they stated.

"They are part of a larger attack on the Court and its legitimacy as an institution. The picture they paint of the Court and the man for whom we worked bears no resemblance to reality," the former clerks explained.

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