A new documentary is currently making the rounds of limited release that explores the life of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. ‘Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in his Own Words’ offers its viewers a unique perspective on one of America’s most contentious and quietly brilliant men.
Thomas has, of course, been a contentious figure in American politics ever since his confirmation hearing in 1991 — when President George H. W. Bush nominated him for the position of Supreme Court associate justice. Thomas was quickly accused of sexually harassing a female subordinate, Anita Hill, earlier in his career. While the FBI quickly ruled out the claim, her testimony was leaked to the public and devolved into a heated series of public sexual harassment hearings prior to his confirmation.
The movie doesn’t pretend that it isn’t taking a stance on Justice Thomas’s innocence. If anything, his accusation draws immediate comparisons in the movie to the conspicuously similar accusations made 27 years later against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Alas, in the scheme of lionizing Supreme Court justices, a single documentary about Justice Thomas pales in comparison to the multitude of biopics and documentaries made about progressive darling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
‘Created Equal’ is a documentary that merely puts his perspective in the spotlight. It’s primarily composed as a one-on-one sit-down interview with the now 71-year-old justice as he reflects on his life, politics, and his stances on constitutional law. Anyone who has read his memoir, ‘My Grandfather’s Son,’ will likely be familiar with some of the highlights of his journey — but for first-time viewers, his life will likely be rather striking. Born in rural Georgia during segregation, Justice Thomas endured both poverty and unimaginable racial prejudice. He was largely sheltered from the worst of it via his relationship with his grandfather, who put him to work as a part-time laborer and a farmer with strict standards and expectations. After a falling out with his grandfather, he underwent a period of radicalization amidst the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement and moved politically to the far-left. After graduating from College of the Holy Cross and subsequently Yale Law School, he eventually received a job working with the attorney general of Missouri, and future Republican U.S. senator, John Danforth.
While most of the back half the documentary deals with the results of his Supreme Court nomination and subsequent confirmation, the first half ends up being the more revealing half. Seeing his path from the most oppressed rungs of American society to becoming an associate justice is nothing short of inspiring. He is, in every respect, the embodiment of the American dream. His position of power now is a reflection of a lifetime of struggle, hard work, and self-reflection as he grew into the man he is today.
Seeing him grow from a leftist into the most famously conservative man on the Supreme Court is equally fascinating. That journey, though less fraught than his upbringing, required years of intellectual wrestling with his leftist tendencies as he developed his originalist stance on constitutional interpretation. After years of attending political conventions and arguing with friends, he developed a strong sense of constitutional fidelity birthed from his love for the Founders and their vision for an American government.
That immense wellspring of knowledge about the nature of the American Founding subsequently gives Thomas’s perspective of his confirmation hearings a rather hilarious undercurrent. Watching him explain how then-Senator Joe Biden’s (D-DE) contortions of political theory amounted to little more than an attempt to make him reveal his positions on abortion is nothing short of hilarious. The Democrats’ line of interrogation during the Senate confirmation hearings was clearly nothing but an attempt to make him stumble as part of the Left’s effort to destroy a black man holding, as Thomas puts it, the “wrong” opinions.
Being black and a conservative always put Justice Thomas at odds with the progressive Left. Given his Catholic faith, as well as his personal stances against forced busing and welfare, he drew immense amounts of acrimony from those who hated him well before Anita Hill made her accusations known. Thomas is, in every respect, the kind of public figure the Left should hold up as a success story for the black community. Yet the Left casually dismisses him as a race traitor. Thomas is clearly still bothered by some of the horrifically racist rhetoric that has been used against him throughout his career.
For bringing much of this history to the public’s attention, ‘Created Equal’ is a vitally important piece of both journalism and history. Thomas’ stories feel all too familiar in an age of #MeToo accusations and racial identitarianism. Much of the vitriol he spent his career fighting sadly remains a stubborn fact today. The perspective he brings to life, law, and morality is immensely valuable and inspiring. To this day, his name is invoked on the Left as an example of a prominent man being let off the hook for sexual impropriety. The film makes clear Thomas’ name, reputation, and beliefs were dragged through the mud. Thankfully, such a horrific show didn’t destroy the man. He is today as humble, intelligent, proud, faithful, and patriotic as he’s ever been.