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The Real Clarence Thomas

Confirmation Veracity Meets Performance Reality

Series:

Christopher E. Smith and Joyce A. Baugh

Justice Clarence Thomas is a controversial figure on the U.S. Supreme Court because of sexual harassment allegations raised against him during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings. This study avoids unanswerable questions about Thomas’s past by making a straightforward comparison of his confirmation testimony about his judicial philosophy against his subsequent judicial opinions. This comparison raises serious questions about Thomas’s truthfulness during his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because the legitimacy of the courts depends on the integrity of the judges, the authors argue for increased consideration of impeachment if significant evidence indicates that judicial nominees intentionally deceived the Senate and the public about their views on law and public policy.