Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is marking a significant milestone this week.
The long-serving conservative justice, who survived allegations of sexual misconduct during his confirmation hearings, marks 30 years as a member of the court on Friday, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Passing that mark down the road”
Thomas continues to serve an influential role on the nation’s highest court with some insiders referring to him as one of its most important justices.
Despite persistent rumors of impending retirement, sources close to him say he is enjoying his status as a key conservative on the bench and has no plans to rest on his laurels any time soon.
Attorney Mark Paoletta, for example, indicated that Thomas plans to remain on the court for at least another six years so he can break the record for the longest tenure in the court’s history.
“We look forward to him passing that mark down the road,” Paoletta said, as the Examiner reported.
For his many conservative fans, that likely comes as reassuring news. On the other hand, he has plenty of detractors who are eager for him to step down.
“An intellectual leader”
Thomas has been a polarizing figure since his contentious confirmation hearings three decades ago, during which he boldly defied what he called a “high-tech lynching” in the form of allegations being levied against him.
Millions of Americans have since been inspired by his courage and conviction, not to mention his life story. Born poor and raised by his grandparents, his political identity shifted rightward as he got older and he ultimately rose to a position to help define American conservativism.
In coordination with his 30th year on the court, the 2007 memoir My Grandfather’s Son is set to be released in audio and Kindle versions. Many of his former clerks have also used to opportunity to weigh in on the significance of his career.
C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of Administrative State at George Mason University Co-Executive Director Jennifer Mascott called Thomas “an intellectual leader and tour de force in returning the focus of our constitutional system to first principles.”
Some supporters see Thomas as a powerful counterexample to the dreary outlook of many leftists, including on the topic of race. Michael Pack, who directed a documentary about Thomas released last year, said that the justice believes “the way to succeed in America is to succeed on your merits and not to look for special breaks, and not continue to define yourself only by race.”