by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Among the most prominent figures in American politics, perhaps none is as poorly understood as Justice Clarence Thomas. Watching him tell his riveting story at length on camera for the first time, it becomes evident that the man has been deeply wronged — maligned, disparaged, written off.
Thomas may be the most famously silent public figure since Calvin Coolidge. But he has much to say in Michael Pack’s excellent documentary Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words, a measure of long-delayed redress for Thomas’s reputation. Should Thomas remain on the high court until his 80th birthday, as has become common, he would become the longest-serving justice in U.S. history. May he have that last laugh.
Until then, this film should serve as a standard introduction to Thomas and what he has overcome. …
… The movie tells a story that has been a long time coming; Thomas created a certain mystery or void with his trademark silence: He once went ten years without asking a question during oral arguments. The implied explanation for this is, to those aware of his erudition and his welcoming personality, completely false. Thomas is anything but sullen. Rather, he simply feels it is not the place of a justice to insert himself into the arguments. Indeed, in nearly any other court, it would be highly unusual for a judge to argue with the lawyers. “The referee in the game,” says Thomas, “should not be a participant in the game.” Clear enough.