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Just Another Brother on the SCT?: What Justice Clarence Thomas Teaches Us About the Influence of Racial Identity

Angela Onwuachi-Willig

University of Iowa College of Law

Iowa Law Review, Vol. 90, 2005

Justice Clarence Thomas has generated the attention that most Justices receive only after they have retired. He has been boycotted by the National Bar Association, caricatured as a lawn jockey in Emerge Magazine, and protested by professors at an elite law school. As a general matter, Justice Thomas is viewed as a "non-race" man, a Justice with a jurisprudence that mirrors the Court's most conservative white member, Justice Antonin Scalia­, in other words, Justice Scalia in "blackface."

This Article argues that, although Justice Thomas's ideology differs from the liberalism that is more widely held by Blacks in the United States, such ideology is deeply grounded in black conservative thought, which has a "raced" history and foundation that are distinct from white conservatism. In so doing, this Article examines the development of black conservative thought in the United States; highlights pivotal experiences in Justice Thomas's life that have shaped his racial identity; and explicates the development of Justice Thomas's jurisprudence from a black, conservative perspective in cases concerning education and desegregation, affirmative action, and crime.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 98

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Date posted: January 4, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Onwuachi-Willig, Angela, Just Another Brother on the SCT?: What Justice Clarence Thomas Teaches Us About the Influence of Racial Identity. Iowa Law Review, Vol. 90, 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=638281

Contact Information

Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Contact Author)
University of Iowa College of Law ( email )
290 Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States
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