Biden nominee for federal appeals court faces questions over decades-old remarks on Justice Thomas

President Joe Biden’s latest judicial nominee came under fire on Wednesday for comments she made decades ago that some took as an attack on now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and other Black conservatives.

According to the Washington Examiner, Eunice Lee, who has been tapped by Biden for a seat on the bench of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, faced a barrage of questions during a confirmation hearing Wednesday over a letter she wrote to her college newspaper in the early 1990s describing Thomas as “one of that group of [B]lack conservatives who feel that [B]lack people should focus less on racism and more on self-help.”

The letter was reportedly published as Thomas was in the midst of his own confirmation hearings in the Senate.

“The political hot seat”

In her letter, published in Ohio State University’s The Lantern in October 1991, Lee, then a junior at the school, took issue with how Thomas defended himself against Democrats’ accusations during his hearings, which were led by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).

The then-student wrote that she liked Thomas “even less than I did before” and labeled him as among the “[B]lack conservatives” who believe “racism isn’t much of an obstacle to [B]lack success.”

“As soon as Thomas was under pressure and under attack, as soon as it was his butt on the line, he was more than willing to attribute it to racism,” she added.

Lee also decried Thomas’ assertion that the smears against him were a “high-tech lynching for uppity [B]lacks,” and wrote that if it made Thomas “look better and garner sympathy,” he appeared more than willing to acknowledge that “racism” is an “obstacle for millions of other [B]lacks.”

“I might stop short of calling Thomas a hypocrite, but I am reminded of that saying of how there are no atheists in foxholes,” Lee concluded. “Perhaps you can also say there are no [B]lack ‘conservatives’ when in the political hot seat.”

Pressed for comment

Lee faced questions on the subject of the op-ed from Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. In response, the Biden nominee said her prior column “does not reflect the views that I have today.”

Pressed further specifically about Justice Thomas and his purported denial that racism sometimes presents obstacles — which the senator noted that Thomas has often discussed over the years — the judicial nomineee simply reiterated, “Well, as I said, I don’t espouse the views in that letter now.”

She also said she didn’t believe it was proper for her to comment any further on a fellow judge.

According to National Review‘s Carrie Severino, Eunice Lee has never served as a judge before, though she has clerked for a pair of judges in the past. Otherwise, she’s spent the bulk of her legal career as a public defender. Combined with an apparent snub of a sitting SCOTUS justice, that lack of experience certainly doesn’t bode well for the judicial hopeful.

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