Art Chance: Uncle Clarence



United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and I were born about a year and 100 miles apart in a rural Georgia that had ceased to exist by the time we were graduated from high school.

Justice Thomas was born into the kind of grinding poverty that only rural Southern blacks and Indians on reservations know. His father was a farm laborer and his mother a domestic worker, the status of most blacks in the rural South in those days. Unlike the majority of black men today, he did have the benefit of knowing who his father was, but the father left the family when Thomas was a small child.

His mother struggled to keep body and soul together and her children fed and ultimately gave up and turned Thomas and his brother over to her parents in Savannah, Ga., a very common occurrence with rural blacks. It was a bit of a twist on the usual pattern, in which it was usually the young folks who had gone to the city and then when they had troubles sent the kids to the old folks back at the “home place” in the country. There is a meme floating around that goes something like “If you raise your kids, you get to enjoy your grandkids. If you spoil your kids, you get to raise your grandkids.” That has been true for blacks for a long time, and now we’ve achieved equality.

Coastal Georgia produced indigo, rice, and the much-coveted “Sea Island” long-staple cotton. The environment was a disease-ridden fever swamp. The planters who owned the land lived far inland and left cultivation to slaves and a few overseers. There are the remains of a small town, Summertown, near my hometown, where the planters from the coastal and Savannah River lowlands kept their summer homes where they went to get away from the insects and disease.

The slaves in coastal Georgia and South Carolina were mostly of West African origin and they developed a unique language and culture called Gullah or Geechee. The first language for Justice Thomas was Gullah.

I’ve heard Gullah, and by my time it had morphed into something of a Creole English, and I could catch a word here and there but could neither speak it nor really understand it. My grandfather could speak a pidgin version of it from his days in the timber industry rafting logs to the coastal towns. Gullah is still spoken by maybe as many as 5,000 people in intracoastal South Carolina and Georgia.

I well know what it was like to try to “pass” in college and corporate America with an “upcountry” Southern accent. You can be a charming devil with the dulcet tones of a Shelby Foote tidewater Southern accent, but that upcountry twang of interior Georgia, the Carolinas, and Appalachia marks you as illiterate white trash. If you’re going to get a job that doesn’t involve the custodial closet or the grounds crew, you need to work on that accent.

I can’t imagine what it was like for Justice Thomas to embark into academia in the late 1960s with not just a black accent or a Southern accent, but a Gullah accent and a first language in that dialect. Thomas’ answer was to take his bachelor’s degree in English literature so he could “master the language.”  He went on to take his J.D. from Yale Law and thread his way up the ladder in the Congress, the US Department of Justice, and ultimately the federal courts.

Thomas was clearly shortlisted for the Supreme Court, but he was passed over when President George H.W. Bush appointed David Souter. When Justice Thurgood Marshall’s seat came open, a black appointee was the obvious choice and Thomas was appointed. 

All hell broke loose. Marshall was a Democrat and civil rights movement icon; he was the “first black almost everything” and had argued Brown v. The Board on behalf of the NAACP. Thomas was a Republican nominee and an open conservative, an apostate.

We’d already seen the first all-out Democrat attack on a Republican nominee to the United States Supreme Court, and it was so virulent that it produced its own verb; to “Bork” a nominee, named for Judge Robert Bork, who was savaged by Democrats. They brought it to a new level with Clarence Thomas’ confirmation and we saw the first performance of Democrat women for hire in confirmation hearings.   The Democrat master of ceremonies was Sen. Joe Biden.

Unlike the Bork nomination, Thomas and the Bush Administration endured the slings and arrows and Thomas was narrowly confirmed to the high court. Since 1991 he has served as a solid and stolid conservative vote on the Court. He seemed content in Justice Antonin Scalia’s shadow, but with Scalia’s passing and changes in the court and the political scheme, he has taken a much more prominent role, and it has incensed the Left.

Thomas concurred in the majority opinion recently in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reversing Roe vs. Wade and Casey vs. Planned Parenthood. Yet, in other writings Thomas has gone on to say that the court should go on to examine other decisions based on the notion of “substantive due process,” which was an underpinning of Roe going back to Griswold v. Connecticut, and Douglas’ notions of “penumbras” and “emanations” of rights from other parts of the Constitution. Most people with brains have long believed that Griswold and its progeny were on very shaky logical grounds.

Distinguishing cases and theories is a necessary skill in legal writing, and Justice Alito was very careful to distinguish his opinion in Dobbs from cases such as Griswold and other substantive due process cases regarding inter-racial marriage and same-sex marriage. For the last 70 years we have endured the left bypassing the processes of legislative democracy for the appeal to nine oligarchs in black robes.

Say what you will about Sen. Mitch McConnell, but he performed a great service for American democracy by blocking Merrick Garland’s ascension to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump undid 70 years of liberal activist judicial control of the Supreme Court with his appointments to the Court. Now all we have to do is hold on to at least enough of the Congress to stop the communists, excuse me, Democrats from doing anything like packing the Court with 30 wierdos.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.

Art Chance: Palin is finishing what she started, as every Democrat’s favorite Republican


  1. One day, in the not-too-distant future, Clarence Thomas may very well find himself appointed to a high position in the judiciary of a magnificent kingdom. Regrettably, some of Thomas’s critics may find themselves in a location that is significantly warmer than the Georgia region of his childhood. Climate change is truly coming.

  2. Justice Thomas’s book, My Grandfather’s Son gives great insight into the his rearing and character. His grandfather should have raised 10,000. The world would be a better place. We need to stop calling judges like Thomas “conservative” it leaves a horrible taste in the mushy minds of so many young Americans. He reads the law and applies the law. That’s his job. Activist judges like Sotomayor and Roberts should be called “Legislative Justices” as that is what they despicably do.

    • If you’re really interested, start with Griswold and the whole notion, actually the whole fiction, of substantive due process, which is legalese for “we made it up.”

  3. I read Thomas’ book. I believe he started his career in Govt. as a Democrat but later became a conservative. I wonder if he takes delight in rulings that effect Joe Biden Presidency.
    Art is correct. He saved this country from a very evil man. Look at his work as Attorney General. After seeing him on TV it is clear Merrick Garland is pure evil!

  4. Good piece, Art, as always. Weirdos on the high court is probably coming next, though, if Biden stays on board for his full term and our current Conservative justices don’t get the protection they are entitled to. An LGBTQ or Tranny-plant with purple and green hair writing a decision on shared bathrooms. Yes, this is what are country is coming to terms with while the next generation gets dumbed down with more electronic devices, and marijuana shops proliferate.

  5. The author’s personal connection to Thomas has produced an excellent story, and article. Thanks for reminding people of Xiden’s role in Thomas’s confirmation hearing – he was truly despicable! And thanks for reminding me of “substantive due process,” and all the case law to review!
    Go Mr. Chance!

  6. While upholding the constitution Clarence Thomas lost his black privilege with the Democrats. I believe they now call him a “black, white supremacist.” Do and act as you’re instructed or you will be punished and banished. Isn’t this a bit like slavery? Yes Democrats (the party of slavery) it is.

  7. Art, Your growing up in Georgia would offer you the perspective that the Democrats were the ones who fostered the KKK and hatred against Republicans, Blacks, and their mad desire for one- party rule. These foul Democrats really haven’t ended their hatred of Blacks. You can see it in their seething hatred of Associate Justice Thomas.

    Planned Parenthood hates Justice Thomas about as much as the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margarete Sanger hated Blacks. Sanger, a racist bitch if ever there was one, advocated for eugenics, the forced sterilization of the “unfit”. And wrote that, “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”

    In the end, reason and decency is prevailing- despite the screams of the far left Democrats.

    If ever there was a brilliant, and well argued amicus brief, it was the one offered by the Jewish Pro- Life Foundation (19-1392) in the Dobbs v. Jackson Woman’s Health Center Supreme Ct. Case.

    “Rights in the Jewish tradition are entitlements given by God through the Torah. A right entails a duty not to interfere with the rights-holder’s exercise of her or his right, or a duty to actively save anyone from having their right violated. Duties are commanded (mitzvot) to enforce legitimate rights. Hence a baby, from the moment of conception, has the right not to be prevented from continuing to live and grow in utero, and to be nurtured there.7 All of us who are able to do so have the duty to enforce this right of the child in the womb: Leviticus 19:16: “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake.” Pro-abortion groups “support every woman’s legal right to make decisions about and have control over her own body.” While this is true about a number of decisions, nobody has the moral right to kill another human person. In fact, the child in the womb is a separate individual from the mother with a different genetic code, often a different blood type or gender.”

    This brief has dozens of pages of ethical, logical, well researched arguments that the hateful left will ignore- but its a great read for civilized people.

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