Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did himself a world of good last night by giving up his petulant attitude towards the press, and allowing for a wide ranging interview with the CBS News show “60 Minutes”. While the show airbrushed some of the rougher and more unseemly aspects of his story in relation to Anita Hill, and his less than stellar performance as a jurist, the one time self-described ‘radical’ came off as some one that might be fun to converse with at a cocktail party.
If Thomas could now break the chains that hold him to Justice Scalia, there might be a second book and another interview to be had on the Sunday night program. And the nation would be better served if Justice Thomas were to stop carrying water for the conservatives, and view the law in relation to all of America.
By being so reluctant for so long to engage in the PR battle to remove the stains of his past, or at least republish them with his own spin, was a huge mistake for Thomas. As the Justice demonstrated last night at length, he is able to hold his own and speak convincingly about his life and points of view. His long held views that the press were the enemy was proved wrong last night. CBS gave him ample time to tell his story, while mixing in enough feel good moments to make it just syrupy enough to enjoy, but not so much that you needed the bucket.
The problem with Thomas is that he is not his own man on the bench. He is linked so tightly with Justice Scalia as they contort the law to fit a conservative manifesto that there is no room for Thomas to grow mentally. As Thomas showed last night there is some substance within the man. But by being Scalia’s black half on the bench 91% of the time during the last court session, there is little Thomas can do for personal growth. Until he breaks free of Scalia’s grip, Thomas is still owned by someone, and not yet truly a free man.