Justice Clarence Thomas is in his 27th term in the U.S. Supreme Court, and he agreed to become the 341st leader interviewed for my Daily Caller News Foundation series.
Now at age 69, he is looking back on his life with gratitude and discernment with valuable lessons for others.
People often want to define you by the bad things that happen in your life, he says, but there has been so much good amidst the challenges he told me, his wife, in this exclusive interview for TheDCNF.
From a life that launched from economic deprivation, illiteracy, family dysfunction and even time as a radical leftist, his accomplishments now reach to the U.S. Supreme Court — where he faces constant vilification and defamation. He says he learned the value of humility, patience, and persistence, but the bedrock of his rules for living came from simple aphorisms from his illiterate grandfather.
At a young age, he learned how to build bridges and find something in common with other people, be it sports, a hobby, religion or experiences, rather than focusing on differences and divisions. “Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” he believes.
Looking back, he credits divine providence for the path of his life. From the burning of a house, to being raised by his grandparents, to the nuns who taught in Savannah’s inner city, to attending the seminary and to getting his first job with Missouri Attorney General Jack Danforth who was interviewing at Yale. Nothing could have foreseen his sitting on the Supreme Court today.
Faith, he says, gives him “the strength to do what I have to do every day, to assert the independence, to be willing to take the beatings, the criticism, the unfairness.” When he attends daily mass, he says, it helps him do his “job, a secular job, in the right way and for the right reasons.” It reminds him that his work has nothing to do with what is said about him, but is rather about doing what he took an oath to do.
Justice Thomas frequently turns to the “Litany of Humility,” which helps focus and insulate him from the distractions, criticisms, or praise that can come from this world. In his view, what really matters is whether you do what you are called to do.
As we talked about the biggest blessings of his life, he named being born in America, his faith, his son, and our marriage. He also spoke of his love of University of Nebraska athletics, motor homing over the last 18 years through “fly over country,” and the gift of being able to read. When you grow up surrounded by illiteracy with adults asking, “What this paper say?” reading becomes a true blessing. “It is like Christmas every day” when he reads.
On inter-racial marriage he says, “if I were more progressive or liberal it [our marriage] would be considered progressive to be in an inter-racial marriage, but if you are not, then you are selling out.” He adds, “I don’t think of it as some statement. You’re my wife.”
Only after public outrage and congressional resolutions condemning the Smithsonian Institution’s refusal to honor Thomas in its African American museum did an exhibit get modified. Ritual defamation by an antagonistic cultural elite who hope to reduce his popular currency and make his views radioactive, especially for any black American to emulate, has become the way of life for him.
Although he knows the difficulty of taking the public beatings for his views, he often remembers his grandfather’s advice in the 1980s of “Boy, you have to stand up for what you believe in.” He acknowledges a certain peace that comes from knowing you did the right thing, and he talks about the importance of not allowing the critics to make you into someone you are not by overreacting negatively to them. He quotes the black author Richard Wright who said, “the worst I’ve ever been treated is when I told the truth.”
In an epic speech some 20 years ago to black judges in Memphis, Thomas boldly stated that he came not to defend his views, “but rather to assert my right to think to myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me as though I was an intellectual slave because I’m black.” He wrote that speech, he says today, to draw attention to, “the right, among blacks, to think for themselves, the right to be that invisible man, to be the one who lays claim to his own thoughts.”
On the best part of being a justice, he praises our marriage to share the experiences, but also the joy of his four clerks each term. He promises his clerks that they “will leave this job with clean hands, clean hearts and clear consciences” They are “just a delight.” He enjoys the company of his colleagues and misses those who have retired and passed away.
Don’t miss his jovial ending where he wanted to turn the tables on the interviewee.
For more on Justice Clarence Thomas, read his autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son,” see these articles or watch any of the 264 C-Span covered events of speeches he has given. To me, he is the best man walking the face of this earth!
This damn government is so damn corrupt that it is not possible to have a proper investigation. How is it possible that no one is being indicted and locked up. This video proves the FBI and the DOJ is corrupt all the way up to Barack Obama.
Will anyone ever get locked up for all of this corrupt behavior.
Republicans on key congressional committees say they have uncovered new irregularities and contradictions inside the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server.
For the first time, investigators say they have secured written evidence that the FBI believed there was evidence that some laws were broken when the former secretary of State and her top aides transmitted classified information through her insecure private email server, lawmakers and investigators told The Hill.
That evidence includes passages in FBI documents stating the “sheer volume” of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case, the investigators said.
The name of the witness is redacted from the FBI documents but lawmakers said he was an employee of a computer firm that helped maintain her personal server after she left office as America’s top diplomat and who belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.
The investigators also confirmed that the FBI began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton of any crimes while evidence responsive to subpoenas was still outstanding and before agents had interviewed more than a dozen key witnesses.
Those witnesses included Clinton and the computer firm employee who permanently erased her email archives just days after the emails were subpoenaed by Congress, the investigators said.
Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee who attended a Dec. 21 closed-door briefing by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe say the bureau official confirmed that the investigation and charging decisions were controlled by a small group in Washington headquarters rather the normal process of allowing field offices to investigate possible criminality in their localities. The Clinton email server in question was based in New York.
In normal FBI cases, field offices where crimes are believed to have been committed investigate the evidence and then recommend to bureau hierarchy whether to pursue charges with prosecutors. In this case, the bureau hierarchy controlled both the investigation and the charging decision from Washington, a scenario known in FBI parlance as a “special,” the lawmakers said.
The FBI declined comment on McCabe’s closed-door testimony and the evidence being shared with Congress.
Some Republicans on the committee say the findings and revelations have left them more convinced than ever that FBI leadership rigged the outcome to clear Clinton.
“This was an effort to pre-bake the cake, pre-bake the outcome,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a House Judiciary Committee member who attended the McCabe briefing before the holidays. “Hillary Clinton obviously benefited from people taking actions to ensure she wasn’t held accountable.”
Gaetz said he could not divulge the specifics of what McCabe told lawmakers, but that he left the Dec. 21 session believing the FBI had deviated from its “normal objective practices” while investigating Clinton.
The top Democrat on the panel acknowledged the FBI’s handling of the case was unique, but argued Republicans are politicizing their own panel’s work.
“To the extent that the Assistant Director of the FBI was involved in that investigation, and recognizing that the investigation itself presented a unique set of circumstances, his testimony did not raise any concerns that would justify the Republicans’ outsized obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails two years after the fact,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) who recently took over as the top Democrat on House Judiciary after former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) stepped aside after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him.
It looks like the fix really was in.
Republicans lawmakers report irregularities in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server that suggest the bureau had evidence to believe the former Secretary of State and her staff broke federal laws.
Congressional investigators told The Hill they possess written statements indicating a belief by FBI agents that laws were broken Clinton and her aides transmitted classified information through her private email server.
Republicans on three House committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee have based their findings on recent interviews and document productions, including an analysis of the multiple drafts of former FBI director James Comey’s exoneration of Clinton.
Investigators on Capitol Hill said drafts of the statement acknowledged there was “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information.”
The May 2, 2016 draft of Comey’s statement featured a passage that read:
“The sheer volume of information that was properly classified as Secret at the time it was discussed on email (that is, excluding the “up classified” emails) supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information.”
Comey’s final language mirrored that draft, when he said, “although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
The FBI also confirmed that a key witness lied to the FBI during his interviews. The witness was the computer technician who deleted Clinton emails from her private server in 2015 after a congressional subpoena had been issued for them.
The technician’s admission came a year after making the false statement. He was never charged for lying to the FBI, a federal felony to which former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn pleaded guilty.
The most jarring irregularity Republican lawmakers say they found was confirmation that the FBI began drafting an exoneration of Clinton before the former Secretary of State and other key witnesses were interviewed.
A senior law enforcement official who spoke under conditions of anonymity told The Hill, “the leadership had a sense of where the evidence was likely headed and the idea was they would begin drafting their conclusions and if we found anything that changed that sense we’d alert them.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasted the move.
“Making a conclusion before you interview key fact witnesses and the subject herself violates the very premise of good investigation. You don’t lock into a theory until you have the facts. Here the evidence that isn’t public yet shows they locked into the theory and then edited out the facts that contradicted it.”
Grassley’s staff also received a sworn affidavit from an FBI agent that contradicted claims by Comey. The former FBI director told Grassley the bureau investigated whether Clinton and her staff were guilty of unlawful destruction of government records.
The FBI agent in question stated the bureau did not address that issue.
These revelations cast further doubt on the objectivity of the FBI investigation that ultimately let Clinton off the hook.
Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans in several cities across Iran on Friday, Iranian news agencies and social media reports said, as price protests turned into the largest wave of demonstrations since nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009.
Police dispersed anti-government demonstrators in the western city of Kermanshah as protests spread to Tehran and several other cities a day after rallies in the northeast, the semi-official news agency Fars said.
The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern about the Islamic Republic’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.
An official said a few protesters had been arrested in Tehran, and footage posted on social media showed a heavy police presence in the capital and some other cities.
Washington condemned the arrests. “The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The U.S. State Department in a separate statement urged “all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.”
About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars said was a “call by the anti-revolution.” They shouted: “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, and some public property was destroyed. Fars did not name any opposition groups.
The protests in Kermanshah, the main city in a region where an earthquake killed over 600 people in November, took place a day after hundreds rallied in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad to protest at high prices and shout anti-government slogans.
Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators yelling, “The people are begging, the clerics act like God.”
Fars said there were protests in the cities of Sari and Rasht in the north, Qazvin west of Tehran and Qom south of the capital, and also in Hamadan in western Iran. It said many marchers who wanted to raise economic demands left the rallies after demonstrators shouted political slogans.
State television said annual nationwide rallies and events were scheduled for Saturday to commemorate pro-government demonstrations held in 2009 to counter protests by reformists.
The Revolutionary Guards, which along with its Basij militia spearheaded a crackdown against the protesters in 2009, said in a statement carried by state media that there were efforts to repeat that year’s unrest but added: “The Iranian nation … will not allow the country to be hurt.”
Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a square but most had left after being asked to by police, while a few who refused were “temporarily detained,” the ILNA news agency reported.
In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters had joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back-pay.
“The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.
In Qom, a stronghold of the Shi‘ite clergy, footage posted on social media showed protesters attacking Ayatollah Khamenei by name. “Seyyed Ali should be ashamed and leave the country alone,” they chanted.
Protests were held also in the town of Quchan near the Turkmen border, and in Ahvaz, capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, social media and Iranian news websites reported.
Police arrested 52 people in Thursday’s protests, Fars quoted a judicial official as saying in Mashhad, one of the holiest places in Shi‘ite Islam.
In social media footage, which could not be authenticated, riot police were seen using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds.
Openly political protests are rare in Iran, where security services are omnipresent.
The last unrest of national significance occurred in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president ignited eight months of street protests. Pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged.
However, demonstrations are often held by workers over lay-offs or non-payment of salaries and by people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.
Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda called earlier for tough action against the protests.
“If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Alamolhoda as saying.
“DEATH TO DICTATOR”
Some social media videos showed demonstrators chanting “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the dictator”. Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities.
Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.
Tehran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country’s civil war, Shi‘ite militias in Iraq, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group.
“Some people had come to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50 shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as ‘Let go of Palestine’, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran’,” Alamolhoda said.
Social media videos also showed demonstrators chanting ”Leave Syria, think about us,” criticizing Iran’s military and financial support for Assad.
Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close Rouhani ally, suggested that hardline conservative opponents of the pragmatist president might have triggered the protests but lost control of them. “Those who are behind such events will burn their own fingers,” IRNA quoted Jahangiri as saying.
Rouhani’s leading achievement, a 2015 deal with world powers that curbed Iran’s disputed nuclear program in return for a lifting of most international sanctions, has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming.
Unemployment stood at 12.4 percent in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4 percent from the previous year. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.