Using the Master's 'Tool' to Dismantle His House: Why Justice Clarence Thomas Makes the Case for Affirmative Action

71 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2005

Abstract

Justice Clarence Thomas, the second black man to sit on the Supreme Court, is famous, or rather infamous, for his opposition to affirmative action. His strongest critics condemn him for attacking the very preferences that helped him reach the Supreme Court. None, however, have considered how Thomas's life itself may be used as a justification for affirmative action. In what ways can the master's "tool" be used to dismantle his house?

This Article analyzes Justice Thomas's appointment to the Supreme Court and contends that his nomination to and performance on the Court ironically make the case for forward-looking affirmative action. Specifically, this Article examines various pro-affirmative action arguments, such as the benefit of cross-racial understanding through interracial diversity, the destruction of stereotypes through an exposure to intraracial diversity of viewpoints, and the redefining of traditional standards of merit, and then utilizes such reasoning to explain how Justice Thomas himself actually lends support to a continuation of forward-looking affirmative action.

Suggested Citation

Onwuachi-Willig, Angela, Using the Master's 'Tool' to Dismantle His House: Why Justice Clarence Thomas Makes the Case for Affirmative Action. Arizona Law Review, Vol. 47, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=657323

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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