US Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, nominated by Republican President George Bush in 1991, before controversy

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was born in the Pinpoint community near Savannah, Georgia in 1948. He attended Conception Seminary from 1967-1968 and received an AB, cum laude, from College of the Holy Cross in 1971 and a JD from Yale Law in 1974. He was admitted to law practice in Missouri in 1974, and served as an Assistant Attorney General of Missouri, 1974-1977, an attorney with the Monsanto Company, 1977-1979, and Legislative Assistant to Senator John Danforth from 1979-1981. From 1981–1982 he served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, US Department of Education, and as Chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1982-1990. During 1990–1991, he served as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Republican President George H.W. Bush nominated him for the Court, and he took his seat in October 1991 after a remarkably controversial confirmation process.

Towards the end of Thomas’s confirmation process, accusations of sexual harassment by former subordinate Anita Hill came to light. Hill was the only woman to be allowed to testify, her accusations were openly questioned by sitting Senators, and Thomas was eventually confirmed by a full Senate vote largely along party lines. Hill passed a polygraph test, four corroborating witnesses were not allowed to testify as part of a backroom deal, and the Thomas confirmation remains highly controversial decades later, perhaps surpassed only the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

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