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A. Leon Higginbotham, An Open Letter to Justice Clarence Thomas from a Federal Judicial Colleague

MILESTONE DOCUMENTS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, p. 1686, Schlager Group, 2010

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-35

19 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2011 Last revised: 4 Nov 2011

William M. Carter Jr.

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

On November 29, 1991, Judge A. Leon Higginbotham wrote an open letter to the newest Supreme Court justice titled “An Open Letter to Justice Clarence Thomas from a Federal Judicial Colleague” and published it in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in January 1992. Clarence Thomas was confirmed as the 106th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on October 15, 1991. His nomination and confirmation provoked great controversy. One aspect of that controversy was his well-known conservative judicial philosophy, which was compounded by the fact that he was nominated to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall, one of the heroes of the civil rights movement, the first African American appointed to the Court, and one of the Court’s “liberal lions.”

In his letter, Higginbotham stated his belief that Thomas, as the second African American ever to serve on the Supreme Court, bore a unique and grave responsibility and had the opportunity to “preserve or dilute the gains this country has made in the struggle for equality.” Higginbotham’s letter criticized Thomas’s judicial philosophy and Thomas himself as being insensitive to concerns about equality and divorced from the long history of discrimination in the United States.

Keywords: Justice Thomas, Judge Higginbotham, integration, segregation, affirmative action, racial discrimination, equal protection, Equal Protection Clause, stigma, equality

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Carter, William M., A. Leon Higginbotham, An Open Letter to Justice Clarence Thomas from a Federal Judicial Colleague (2010). MILESTONE DOCUMENTS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, p. 1686, Schlager Group, 2010; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-35. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1932758

William M. Carter Jr. (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-1401 (Phone)

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