Roe V. Wade ‘wasn’t my problem’ early in his law career

  • Clarence Thomas, in a new book, says he didn’t focus on abortion issues early in his career.
  • “They think we should all have cared about this issue,” he told ‘Created Equal’ co-editor Michael Pack.
  • Thomas was part of the 5-4 Supreme Court majority that voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in a recently published book, said he “didn’t really think about ‘Roe v. Wade during his early years on the judiciary, while delivering a mess against critics who demanded to know his stance on abortion rights after his nomination. in the High Court in 1991.

In the book“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” co-edited by Michael Pack and Mark Paoletta, the conservative jurist sat with Pack for over 30 hours between November 2017 and March 2018, in what became a companion expanded from the 2020 documentary of the same name.

During the interview, Thomas spoke about the opposition he faced from many Democrats and Democratic-aligned groups during his contentious confirmation hearings. During the discussion, he clearly stated that Roe v. Wade — the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the United States and granted a constitutional right to the procedure — was not something he thought much about in law school and as he progressed through his law. career.

However, he was acutely aware that abortion was “at the center” of much of the criticism leveled at him following his nomination by Republican President George HW Bush to replace Thurgood Marshall, the revered civil rights icon.

“That was certainly key to the opposition of many women’s groups,” he told Pack. “I just thought it was ironic that in all my life, through all the years of preparation, and going through Georgia, and all the challenges, that of all the things they reduced it to was something that didn’t wasn’t even a problem in your life.”

He continued: “What I realized, and should have realized more fully, is that you didn’t really matter and your life didn’t matter. What did matter , that was what they wanted, and what they wanted was that particular problem.”

Thomas went on to say that during his studies at Yale Law School and early in his legal career, cases involving privacy issues were not his area of ​​interest, dismissing the idea that he should have been there. listening to abortion.

He rejected Democratic attempts to corner him on abortion during his confirmation hearings, telling Pack during the interview that he “didn’t know” how he would rule on the matter.

“I hadn’t read those privacy cases and hadn’t thought much about due process since law school,” he said in the interview. “I had the constitutional law in 1972; Roe was decided in 1973.”

He added: “I was more interested in racial issues. I was more interested in getting out of law school. I was more interested in passing the bar exam. My life was consumed by the survival I couldn’t pay my rent I I couldn’t pay my student loans I had all these other things going on that you were navigating, these worlds that you were navigating.

During the interview, Thomas reiterated that abortion was not his area of ​​interest in the years leading up to his Supreme Court nomination.

“They think we all should have cared about this issue,” he said of Democrats. “I hadn’t really thought about it. I thought about it in general but not in the sense that I had read Roe or re-read Griswold. It wasn’t my problem.”

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled 6-3 to uphold an abortion ban in Mississippi, while voting 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority in the Mississippi case, but watched his fellow conservative jurists overturn nearly 50 years of precedent by overthrowing Roe, who were unconvinced by his progressive approach to the issue.

The decision on the right to abortion now belongs to the States; 13 states had “trigger laws” in place that effectively banned abortion procedures immediately after the court struck down Roe.

Thomas, in his concurring opinion, wrote that the court should “reconsider” previous rulings on contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage – a departure from his other conservative colleagues – to argue that cases involving the procedure clause rule of the 14th amendment needed to be reviewed.

“For this reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all substantive due process precedents of this Court, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” he said.