Judging The Judge: Citizens Must Unite After 20 Years Of Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas Swearing In by White House
by Andrew Kreig

On Oct. 18 this week, the nation reached an important symbolic moment for the Clarence Thomas era on the Supreme Court. That was the date 20 years ago for his swearing-in ceremony, portrayed above in a White House photo showing the associate justice and his wife, Virginia, with Associate Justice Byron White administering the oath of office.

But the scene was pure hokum designed by the Bush White House to quiet Thomas critics ASAP after the 52-48 Senate confirmation on Oct. 15 — and to allow his backers to celebrate his lifetime appointment in grand style. In sum, this was stage-craft to fool the public about our most respected branch of government at one of its most solemn transitional landmarks.

The real ceremony was a tiny one in private on Oct. 23. Chief Justice William Rehnquist administered the oath after he pulled himself together following his wife’s then-recent death. Thomas acknowledged this chronology in his 2007 autobiography, and other biographers confirm it.

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