♪ ♪ >> Private school tuition for Clarence Thomas'’s grandnephew... >> NARRATOR: Amid controversy... >> Activists paid Ginni Thomas thousands of dollars... >> NARRATOR: Their histories... >> Ginni Thomas grew up with Republican activism.
NARRATOR: Their influence... >> The idea that I won'’t be told what to think, just because of the color of my skin animated Clarence Thomas.
>> Overturning Roe versus Wade... >>NARRATOR: Now, "Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court."
>> Some people might call it payback.
Others might call it the fulfillment of his dreams.
(sirens blaring in distance) >> NARRATOR: In the days before the 2020 election... >> A massive impact on the American judiciary.
>> NARRATOR: ...a decisive moment.
>> Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett.
Folks, do you know how big this is?
This is huge.
>> NARRATOR: Presiding over the ceremony, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
>> ...do solemnly swear... >> ...that I will support and defend the Constitution... >> NARRATOR: Amy Coney Barrett had chosen Thomas to swear her in.
>> ...so help me God.
>> So help me God.
>> NARRATOR: A sign of transformation inside the high court.
(camera shutter clicks) >> It's a moment of victory for Clarence Thomas.
He's now become the center of the Court.
And I think he would say he, he won.
(audience applauding) >> Justice Thomas has developed into one of the leading lights on the court, if not the leading light, so this is why it's often referred to as the Thomas Court now.
He really is sort of the ideological and intellectual center of gravity on the court.
>> NARRATOR: In the front row, Thomas's wife, Ginni.
>> It was a momentous moment.
Ginni Thomas is as good as any, maybe the best, embodiment of the American right today.
She's a true believer.
She has always been on the far right.
Her politics are all about this politics of fear and anger.
That's Ginni Thomas.
>> NARRATOR: Two powerful conservatives, on the court and in politics, pursuing a shared vision.
>> This duo of Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas, they are the it couple of the far right.
>> NARRATOR: Two lives shaped by history.
>> Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.
>> NARRATOR: Politics.
>> The American women do not want E.R.A.
They do not want abortion.
>> NARRATOR: And race.
>> Affirmative action is not equality.
>> NARRATOR: Leaving an indelible mark on America.
>> The conservative majority overturning Roe versus Wade, the right to choose abortion.
>> Challenging the use of race in college admissions, which could have an impact on affirmative action.
>> In a nation freighted with division and upheaval, the Thomases have found their moment.
>> They are one and the same in how they look at their opponents.
It's a war with the other side.
♪ ♪ >> My earliest memories are those of Pin Point, Georgia, a life far removed in space and time.
>> NARRATOR: Clarence Thomas's journey to the center of American power began as far away as one can get from it.
>> He came up poor, very poor, from a marginal community.
They talk about marginalized and underrepresented communities.
Well, the Geechee dialect-speaking, Sea Island-dwelling, poor Black people of the 1950s, which is when he was coming along, were as marginal, I can imagine, as you could get within the context of American society.
>> In 1955, my brother and I went to live with my mother in Savannah.
We lived in one room in a tenement.
We shared a kitchen with other tenants, and we had a common bathroom in the backyard, which was unworkable and unusable.
It was hard, but it was all we had and all there was.
>> His father left early and moved away.
His mother was a single mother.
His mother married many times.
He didn't have a relationship with any of, not his biological dad, or any that came afterwards.
>> His mom has talked to me about how that was a very, um, bleak period of her life, when she had to do, but, you know, she said, you know, "But I had to do what I had to do."
>> NARRATOR: Desperate, Clarence's mother, Leola Williams, gave up the boys, sending them to live at their grandfather's house.
>> Clarence had been rescued from a life of poverty, and ended up in a house that had a toilet, running water, and his ability to go to school every day.
>> NARRATOR: But life with his grandfather, Myers Anderson, had its own challenges.
>> He was tough, he was hard.
I don't think empathy might have been his strongest point.
>> I interviewed Clarence Thomas's mother.
She described that the grandfather would lock Clarence Thomas and his little brother in the hall closet and not let them out, for punishment.
And he also whipped them with a belt quite routinely.
>> His grandfather beat the two boys quite often, whenever it was that they didn't do something fast enough or, or well enough.
He was physically, mentally, verbally abusive to, to both of the boys.
Probably the unhappiest that he's ever been in his life was the time that he spent in his, in his grandfather's house.
♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Things weren't much easier for Clarence out in segregated Savannah.
>> Savannah would have been divided on racial lines.
And when I say that, don't just think that I'm talking White-Black.
We had racial divides among the Black community.
>> They had the brown bag rule.
Um, it is either equal to the brown bag or lighter.
Anything darker, it was ridiculed or derogated in some way.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas wrote about it in his autobiography.
>> Most of the insults aimed at me had to do with the darkness of my skin, the flatness of my nose, the kinkiness of my hair, and the way I talked.
Such racial slurs stung all the more for having come from my own people.
>> The issues of class and race have always been at the heart of how Thomas has seen himself.
That's the prism through which he sees his own life.
And at every turn, there is a racial dimension to his life that he talks about.
>> Clarence was, frankly, never comfortable around the Black people in Georgia.
Clarence had been ridiculed by the children in that area around Pin Point, and he was nicknamed ABC, for America's Blackest Child.
So from an early age, Clarence really felt estranged, I think, from his entire community.
>> The resentment and anger that that can provoke within the darker-skinned and "Blacker" individuals is also not so pretty.
It, it's a psychologically debilitating aspect of African American experience, this kind of class-color prejudice that operates amongst Black Americans.
♪ ♪ (church bell tolling, choir singing) >> I guess the thing I remember most about Clarence is him as an altar boy.
Whenever Father needed to find altar boys, all my classmates and all would hide.
Clarence would volunteer.
>> Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
>> He had a grandfather who was a devout Catholic and wanted him to have the Catholic experience.
(altar bells ringing) >> NARRATOR: His grandfather paid $20 a year for Clarence to attend St. Benedict's School.
>> Our teachers were...
The nuns were called the (bleep) nuns in, in Savannah.
In other words, they were assigned to educate Black kids.
>> Whatever our circumstances, the nuns treated us all with respect and insisted that we do our best, though some of them insisted harder than others.
(shutter clicks) >> NARRATOR: One of the nuns paid special attention to Clarence.
>> Sister Mary Virgillius, my eighth-grade teacher, took a no-nonsense, high-expectations approach to teaching, which may be why she got the most out of me.
>> I think his nurturing came from them because it wasn't coming from his immediate family.
I don't think he had the nurturing of, of parents and whatever we would normally get.
And the nuns and the priests provided that for him.
>> Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
>> The Catholic church can be a refuge from everything else that's going on in your life.
I wanted to be a nun.
(laughs) Before I hit puberty.
(laughing) And so, it was not surprising to me that he would want to go into the seminary.
>> NARRATOR: Clarence excelled at the school, and before long, the nuns began to tout him as a role model.
>> The nuns, that's all they talked about.
"Clarence Thomas is gonna be our first Black priest in Savannah, "and you should really admire him for that, young boys and young girls."
>> He is hard-driving and ambitious and very hardworking.
He's trying to prove himself.
You can sort of see in him from this early period that it's kind of, like, "I'll show them.
"And I don't care if you reject me, I'm going to make it anyway, and I'll show you."
♪ ♪ (single-engine plane starting up) >> NARRATOR: If Clarence Thomas struggled in the segregated South, in the middle of America, his future wife, Ginni Lamp, was living a seemingly picture-perfect life.
>> The thing about the Midwest is that the largest feature of the landscape is the sky.
There's, like, over 180 degrees of sky.
I suppose a long vista gives you a sense that there's something beyond, you know, there's something more out there.
>> "Leave It to Beaver."
>> Beaver, what's the matter with your eye?
>> Which eye, Mom?
(audience laughing) >> I remember watching "Leave It to Beaver" and thinking, as a child, well, this is, that's, that's my, that's my neighborhood, that's where I'm growing up.
The kind of American Dream locale in the 1960s and early '70s.
>> NARRATOR: Kurt Andersen grew up across the street from Ginni.
>> Where we lived was this prosperous, all-White neighborhood.
Except for the housekeepers and cleaners, it was easy to go for days, weeks, months, forever, without seeing Black people, frankly, is what it was.
(hits ball, crowd applauds) >> She came from within almost a walled bastion, you know?
>> NARRATOR: Scott Bange was her high school boyfriend.
>> There was no exposure in her life to somebody who was a high school kid and drank, or smoked weed, or did all those things that I thought were normal and high school kids did.
She was a pretty good little girl.
>> She was just kind of a non-exceptional, you know, middle-of-the-pack girl in these giant classes of 750 people.
(cheerleaders cheering) >> She was involved in things like Pep Club.
And then she became something they called Warrior Woman.
She would, like, lead the marching band, and all these, you know, people carrying pennants and whatnot.
>> NARRATOR: But at home, there was something underneath the everyday suburban veneer.
>> She's the youngest child of a very prosperous real estate developer.
Her mom was a homemaker and political activist.
They were leading what looked outwardly like a idyllic suburban lifestyle.
>> I've heard Ginni Thomas say that she was sort of the mistake child, that she was born a lot later.
So her parents were very politically engaged.
They thought they were done having children, and then comes along Ginni.
They would take her to these Republican rallies, and so she grew up with Republican activism.
And, and obviously, it took, right.
>> NARRATOR: It was a Republican activism beyond the norm, even in conservative Omaha.
>> I first became familiar with the Lamps from my parents talking about them as what they called Black Hats.
That was their phrase for extreme, far-right, John Birch-y Republicans.
>> NARRATOR: The Lamps were immersed in a growing culture of right-wing fear-mongering, like this film from supporters of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
>> Our streets are not safe.
Immorality begins to flourish.
Violence pits American against American.
We don't want this.
>> It's there in this film.
Shots of "the city," of newsstands with pornography on it.
And fast cars and, and kids doing the Twist, and topless dancing and the whole realm of cultural, you know, bogeymen.
>> Demoralization, chaos-- this is the change, the other America that the people slowly wake up to.
In the streets, the mob.
>> NARRATOR: As Ginni was growing up, the conflicts of the 1960s were being broadcast on television.
>> And I say, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!"
(audience cheering) >> There you are, a pre-teen, and you're a sponge, right?
>> ...in a march this morning to the county courthouse at Selma, Alabama.
(protesters chanting) >> Television had really expanded.
>> The whole Black nation has to be put together as a Black army.
>> Everything came right into your living room, so to speak, every night.
>> NARRATOR: In response, the Lamps were drawn to the John Birch Society.
(film music playing) >> The civil rights movement, as we know it today, is simply part of a worldwide movement organized and directed by communists to enslave all mankind.
>> The John Birch Society became a code word for very far-out-there, right-wing beliefs and activities.
>> Their objective is not communist conquest, it's anarchy, breakdown of law and order, helplessness!
>> NARRATOR: For young Ginni, it left an impression.
>> You can see so many echoes in the John Birch Society of what became QAnon and other sort of far-right radical conspiracy theories.
And, you know, this was a very sort of black-and-white point of view that made politics into war.
That was the kind of the mindset that Ginni Lamp grew up in.
♪ ♪ (VHS tape loading) >> In Gullah, the name of this poem is "Dem Four Gals," okay?
>> NARRATOR: As a child, Clarence had grown up speaking the language of the enslaved people of Georgia.
>> It's called Gullah Geechee.
>> And when we greeted people, we said, "How onuh da do?"
>> We used to call it Pidgin English, but I think it was a French flavor to it.
>> NARRATOR: As one of only two Black students attending a high school seminary, the vestiges of that dialect made him a target of ridicule.
>> Not only does it remind everybody around him that he's different, it also reminds them that he's of a lower caste.
It has to be monumental for him.
>> Father Coleman told me matter-of-factly that I didn't speak standard English and that I would have to learn how to talk properly if I didn't want to be thought inferior.
His blunt words hit me like a slap in the face.
>> NARRATOR: That moment stuck with him for the rest of his life.
(shutter clicks) >> Clarence, when he got really relaxed, would revert to some of those ways of phrasing and that accent.
But he was always extremely conscious of how he pronounced words.
Because he had been forced to do that.
>> When the justice was on the high court, he was famous for not speaking during oral argument.
And one of the explanations he would offer for that was because he was embarrassed about how he talked, even though that was so far in the past, that no one who knows the present-day Clarence Thomas would think that that would be a concern of his.
But it indeed was.
>> NARRATOR: His days living in the White seminary shaped him in other ways, too.
>> He was in a dormitory, living on that campus.
So it had to be tough.
You know, when somebody says something derogatory to you in that environment, you got to deal with it, because you're there 24/7.
♪ ♪ >> At night, before he'd go to sleep now and then, you know, there'd be laughter in the room and someone would say, "Clarence, smile so we can see you," that kind of thing.
>> When they put the lights out at night, his peers would shout, "(bleep), (bleep), (bleep), (bleep)," like, for, like, you know...
Hours at night, keep him up.
>> NARRATOR: After he entered the major seminary, one event would become a turning point.
>> I have some very sad news for all of you, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
(audience screams) >> After Martin Luther King is assassinated, that day, he hears his fellow seminarians say, "Good, I hope the S.O.B.
You know, it, it's crushing to him.
It's absolutely crushing.
>> "Our hero is murdered, "and you're dancing on his grave, so to speak?
"These are not my people, "the people who would dance on his grave.
"What am I doing with them?
Where am I?
Who am I?"
This kind of thing.
You begin to ask yourself, "What am I buying into here?"
>> I tore off the beliefs I had learned from the nuns.
I knew what was wrong, who to blame for it, and what to do about it.
I was an angry Black man.
>> That seminary was too much for him.
He had to leave.
It was heart-wrenching.
Not only did he leave the religion that sustained him, but he was also living there.
And so, he had to go back to this household where he was treated like, like a dog.
>> It had to be tremendously painstaking.
You're going to disappoint so many people-- your grandfather, the Black community, the Black Catholic community in Savannah.
All, all these people are looking for you to be the first Black priest.
>> The grandfather's saying, "What, you're leaving the seminary?"
You know, "You're out of my house, I'm cutting you off.
You're not going to be supported."
And again, Thomas is abandoned, right?
He's left alone, he's left to fend for himself.
>> "I'm finished helping you," he said.
"You'll have to figure it out yourself.
"You'll probably end up like your no-good daddy, or those other no-good Pin Point Negroes."
>> Instead of the grandfather being sympathetic and compassionate and, and loving and hugging him and saying, "I love you no matter what," or whatever a normal person would do, he excoriated him and told him that he was a failure and expressed his dire disappointment.
>> NARRATOR: Over the years, Thomas would downplay this image of his grandfather and express admiration for the man who gave him a home as a child.
>> I mean, the grandfather is in the title of his autobiography.
"My Grandfather's Son."
That's how he thought of himself.
But the picture that he paints in that book is completely the opposite of how Clarence described his grandfather to me.
♪ ♪ (audience cheering) >> So, uh... My thanks to all of you, and now it's on to Chicago and let's win there.
(audience cheering) (whistling and cheering) >> One day, I turned on the radio while making my sandwich... (people screaming) >> Senator Kennedy has been shot, is that possible?
>> ...and heard that Bobby Kennedy had been shot.
>> My God, Senator Kennedy has been shot.
>> I fell to my knees and burst into tears.
>> That's it, Rafer, get it!
Get the gun, Rafer!
Okay, now hold onto the guy!
>> I felt the blind, self-destructive rage that haunted so many of the people I knew.
>> And the crowd is running and the police are chasing them into Jackson, into Grant Park.
>> Surely the time for politeness and non-violent protest was over.
Look what it had done for Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy.
(people yelling) (gun fires) >> We aren't going to put up with their nonsense, with their irrationality, with their murder any longer.
>> The more injustice I saw, the angrier I became.
>> We're going to shoot the cops who are shooting our Black brothers in the back in this country, that's where we're gonna do it!
>> And the angrier I became, the more injustice I saw.
(sirens blaring) And the more I read about the Black Power movement, the more I wanted to be a part of it.
>> (speaking Swahili) Which means "we shall conquer without a doubt."
(audience cheering) >> NARRATOR: Now Clarence Thomas, budding campus radical, would pursue his education elsewhere.
He received a scholarship to a private college in Massachusetts.
>> ♪ Holy Cross, Holy Cross ♪ ♪ Hear the songs of Holy Cross ♪ >> At the point when Clarence Thomas got into Holy Cross, the school was actually actively looking for Black students.
The president of Holy Cross, John E. Brooks, who set up this program, described it as affirmative action.
That's what, what opened the doors for him.
>> NARRATOR: Holy Cross-- Catholic, all-male.
More than 2,000 White students.
27 Black students.
Many of them as frustrated as Clarence was.
>> I was pissed off.
I had evolved from being hopeful to being pissed off.
A lot of young people in America was pissed off.
And they weren't seeking a, a reconciliation.
They were seeking a coup.
Change the whole thing.
>> We all involved in it-- I was involved in the protests, he was.
Literally everybody who went up there.
And we, those of us from the South, we were right there with them, saying, "Yeah, man, we, we want to push."
>> He definitely was inspired by the Black Panthers.
He dressed like them, he talked like them.
(shutter clicking) He had a beret, he had Army fatigues, and he had the Army boots.
>> He wore a Afro.
He was out there with everyone else.
I think it was positive because he had a, he had a group.
He wasn't alone now.
He became part of his group.
>> I don't know if he had a well-formed political philosophy before he got to Holy Cross.
It may be he was simply going along.
But the years 1968, 1969, gosh, I was there, and the forces of conformity to a sense of outraged fury, resistance, the throwing off of oppression by any means necessary, it was very seductive, it was very compelling to many, many people, among whom was Clarence Thomas.
>> NARRATOR: And he had a hero, Malcolm x.
>> We want freedom by any means necessary.
We want justice by any means necessary.
We want equality by any means necessary.
>> NARRATOR: He had a poster of Malcolm X in his dorm room.
>> Justice Thomas boasted at one point he had read all of his speeches.
And he said, at one time, he could quote you some of them by heart.
I mean, so he really did pay attention to Malcolm X.
>> We are oppressed, we are exploited.
We are downtrodden.
We are denied not only civil rights, but even human rights.
>> NARRATOR: Clarence Thomas's activism culminated in his junior year, as protests broke out 40 miles away in Harvard Square.
>> An estimated 2,000 radical students from the Greater Boston area decided to march to Cambridge and continue demonstrating.
>> We drank our way to Harvard Square, where our disorderly parade deteriorated into a full-scale riot.
>> The demonstration then turned into the most extreme civil disorder in Cambridge history.
4,000 students against 2,000 police.
(people shouting) >> The police fired rounds of tear gas into the crowd, but that didn't deter us, and we kept on rioting well into the night.
I got back to campus at 4:00 in the morning, horrified by what I'd just done.
>> All over the United States yesterday, there were anti-war protests, most of them peaceful.
One was not, at Harvard University last night.
>> Nearly 200 people were injured.
40 students were arrested.
>> I had let myself be swept up by an angry mob for no good reason other than that I, too, was angry.
>> It's certainly something he talks about a lot.
"Here I am in Harvard Square, in, like, this mini-riot, like, what am I doing here?"
"What am I doing?"
>> NARRATOR: He was conflicted about what he'd done, who he was, what he stood for.
>> I don't think anything about Clarence Thomas is simple.
I mean, he's a bundle of contradictions.
And it seems like there's just always so much inner tension within him.
Yes, he was radical, like his peers, but not as radical.
And he broke with them in various ways.
And he's always breaking with whatever the dominant political trope is.
He says, you know, he's always talking about how he's not going to do what's fashionable.
He wants to be different.
>> NARRATOR: He set about remaking himself.
Gone was the Black Panther uniform.
Proving his grandfather wrong, he excelled at school, graduating near the top of his class.
And the next day, he married his college girlfriend, Kathy Ambush.
>> I asked him, "Why did you marry her?"
And he said, "Because she was the first woman who was nice to me."
He always had, um, a problem with women.
He regarded himself as not attractive at all.
He regarded women as being pretty mean to him, or indifferent to him.
And this was the first woman who did not show that.
So he married her.
(laughs) ♪ ♪ >> I would like to thank my husband, Fred, for letting me come today.
(audience laughs and applauds) I love to say that because it irritates the women's libbers more than anything that I say.
(audience laughing) >> Phyllis Schlafly was a colorful, dynamic, anti-feminist, right-wing reactionary.
>> NARRATOR: As Ginni Lamp was growing up, Phyllis Schlafly was a role model.
Her mother, Marjorie, was a prominent member of Schlafly's group.
>> The American women do not want E.R.A., they do not want abortion, they do not want lesbian privileges, and they do not want universal child care in the hands of the government.
(audience cheering and applauding) >> What she saw in Phyllis Schlafly and her mom was "no excuses."
You don't need affirmative action.
You don't need women's kind of special accommodations.
You make your own fate, you create your own path, and you lean in.
It doesn't have to be the liberal way.
You can also do it the Republican way.
>> NARRATOR: They were waging a battle against the E.R.A., Equal Rights Amendment.
>> This one woman, Schlafly, pretty much singlehandedly stopped a whole movement and killed the Equal Rights Amendment.
It really was an example of what you could do as a conservative woman leading a crusade.
>> And we can build this into a mighty movement that can set America on the right path.
Then conquer we must for our cause it is just, and this be our motto: in God is our trust.
(audience applauds) >> Ginni's inspired.
She wants to go into politics, she wants to go to law school.
She wants to be like this and like her mom.
>> NARRATOR: Ginni watched as her mom ran for the state legislature and wrote dozens of letters to the editor of the local newspaper.
>> Aren't you all getting sick and tired of the news media and liberals taking off in all directions to persecute Republicans, particularly President Nixon and Vice President Agnew?
Mrs. Donald G. Lamp.
>> NARRATOR: By 12, Ginni was writing her own letters.
>> I am 12 years old, but I don't understand why they can ban all products with cyclamates in them when they aren't even sure they cause cancer.
Why don't they ban cigarettes?
They know cigarettes cause cancer.
>> NARRATOR: She would become a page at the Republican Women's Conference.
>> To you, the great silent majority... >> NARRATOR: Following her mom to see Richard Nixon.
>> My fellow Americans, I ask for your support.
>> Instead of, as so many teenagers do, faced with that at that time, reject it and go get high and wear jeans and tell their parents to get out of here, she obviously embraced it and kept embracing it and never stopped embracing it.
It's simply saying, "Yes, Mom and Dad, I'm just like you, and I'm proud to be just like you."
>> In many families, you don't talk about politics at the dinner table, right?
But that was important to her parents.
And it leads to that Manichaeistic view between good and evil.
And if you look at things in terms of good and evil, you end up angry, you're bitter, you don't accept defeats.
So it takes you to a, a really dark place, when politics is your focus.
♪ ♪ >> ♪ To the tables down at Mory's ♪ ♪ To the place where Louie dwells ♪ >> NARRATOR: After Holy Cross, Clarence Thomas was off to a very different world once again-- Yale Law School.
>> ♪ Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled ♪ >> NARRATOR: It was a chance to leave Pin Point far behind, defy his grandfather's prophecy, and get positioned to make real money.
>> We know what the reputation of Yale is.
You got a network of folks in all walks of life in the legal community, and all you gotta say is, "Man, I'm a Yale alum," and bam, you got a job.
That was our perception.
>> He had thought, "Well, you know what?
"I'll just go, go make me a bunch of money, maybe go to New York and be a lawyer."
(bell tolling) >> NARRATOR: He and Kathy moved into married student housing.
They made a connection with their neighbor.
>> When we were both in married student housing, he set up his study room in what should have been, you know, a joint storage room.
>> NARRATOR: His classmate, John Bolton... (camera shutter clicking) ...would become U.N. ambassador, undersecretary of state, and national security adviser.
>> And we started talking and talked for the next two years, basically.
And that's where we got to know each other.
>> NARRATOR: Over time, Thomas would open up to Bolton.
>> I don't think he was terribly happy at the law school.
Look, people at Yale Law School, generically speaking, are a pretty arrogant group.
They think that they're going to rule the world.
For example, in the year ahead of us were Bill and Hillary Clinton.
That was kind of the atmosphere.
I don't think Clarence came with that in mind for himself.
And I think it was kind of off-putting.
>> There are other Black students there, but again, the Black students who are there, like, he doesn't feel they are like him.
He's not part of the elite.
They're, in his mind, privileged kids, you know?
The sons and daughters of doctors and lawyers.
So he feels, again, like the outcast.
>> He believed that people assumed he was there as a, as a beneficiary of affirmative action, and it grated on him.
>> He has this feeling of, "Oh, I'm around these White students" who he senses question his presence at Yale.
"How is it that you-- not just you, Clarence Thomas-- "but you, all you Black students, are here?
"Is it because of merit or is it because of affirmative action?"
There was one law professor, Ralph Winter, who in a challenging way mentioned this, "People don't think, you know, you deserve to be here."
That kind of thing.
And Thomas doesn't take it as a challenge, he takes it as a slight.
>> NARRATOR: Rather than try to fit in, Thomas tried to stand out.
>> He dressed in overalls and a T-shirt.
It was kind of a uniform.
But neither one of us was terribly rich, so I, I didn't wear overalls, but I understood what it meant for him.
>> With Clarence Thomas, what you see is somebody who's isolating himself.
And he's kind of saying, you know, "I don't want to try to join you," maybe because he's, doesn't want to be rejected again.
(bell tolling) >> NARRATOR: After three years of Yale Law School, graduation was nearing, but Clarence Thomas wasn't getting the offers he expected from prestigious law firms.
>> He was saying that he wasn't getting the kind of offers that other students were getting.
And, and we couldn't understand it.
We thought that, well, you know, you're at Yale, and if you're not getting offers, something, something's wrong, you know?
Because that's the whole purpose of going to those schools.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas would never forget the sting of those rejections.
(shutter clicks) >> He said he would keep stacks of rejection letters he had gotten from law firms.
Even when he was, like, a Supreme Court justice, he had these letters just to sort of remind him of those, again, this feeling of rejection by kind of the elite law firms.
>> He had his Yale law degree, and he had a ten-cent stamp stuck to it.
You know, like, a ten-cent price tag stuck to it?
'Cause he was, like, "Yeah, this is what it's worth, right, ten cents, right, no more."
>> NARRATOR: He came to blame affirmative action for the rejection he felt.
>> Now I knew what a law degree from Yale was worth when it bore the taint of racial preference.
I was humiliated and desperate.
>> He thought that his degree was devalued, that he didn't get the same kind of cachet out of the degree once he was looking for a job and trying to move in his career.
He assumed that others were assuming that it's a Yale law degree, but with an asterisk next to it.
>> I disagree.
I disagree totally.
(shutter clicks) >> NARRATOR: Orion Douglass had a strikingly similar academic journey to Clarence Thomas's.
(shutter clicks) Scholarship to Holy Cross, law school.
(shutter clicks) Eventually becoming a judge.
>> How are you going to blame affirmative action for not getting a job when you never was offered the job for 100 years before, okay?
(chuckles) The system was still there.
The infrastructure for separation, discrimination was still there.
It was still the segregated mindset of White America.
♪ ♪ (crowd cheering) >> NARRATOR: Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign rocked the world of conservative Republicans.
>> Thank you very much.
>> NARRATOR: They called it a revolution.
And Ginni and her mom were there, watching as Reagan used a catchy phrase to describe it.
>> For those who've abandoned hope, we'll restore hope and we'll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again.
(crowd cheering) >> NARRATOR: Ginni headed to Washington, hoping to do her part-- break into politics.
>> I spoke to her brother Russell, and he said, you know, "Mom was a big politician and Ginni wanted to be like Mom."
And I think Ginni actually came to Washington thinking that she might run for Congress one day.
>> She was prodigious.
She worked very hard, morning, noon, and night.
And certainly didn't need anybody to light a fire under her.
She was very, very anxious to perform and to deliver.
>> She was young.
She was fairly new to Washington.
She was someone who wanted to do things in the world, wanted to accomplish something, had a sense of being on a mission.
>> NARRATOR: But Washington was a far cry from life in Omaha.
(shutter clicks) >> She got to Washington, bright-eyed and idealistic from the Midwest, and her mom and dad weren't there, her older siblings weren't around.
It's easy to get lost in Washington.
People sleep with their bosses.
People do all kinds of crazy things.
>> NARRATOR: During this time, Ginni suffered a traumatic experience, something she later described in "People" magazine.
>> I was once sexually harassed at work.
It wasn't verbal harassment, it was physical.
It was something I had put way down in the recesses of my mind.
>> She had mentioned to me that she'd had an incident with sexual harassment.
She didn't want to get into the details of it, so I didn't know much about it.
I just knew that there had been some trauma involved and she was someone who felt kind of alone in the world, and was looking for not only companionship, but for the tools that she needed to reattach to the world-- to create the relationships that she thought would make her healthier.
(VHS tape loading) ♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: She was drawn to a controversial self-help group called Lifespring.
>> In your life, up until now, whether you consider yourself successful or not, you've really done the best you can.
This program is an invitation for you to open up new areas for success.
>> The program gave her a sense of belonging, a group of other searcher-type people who felt lost or lonely, who now came together and go through a deeply intense experience of exposing their emotions to one another, hugging a lot, crying together.
>> It does not hurt, it feels wonderful!
(audience cheering) All right!
>> I'm okay!
>> She was deeply impressed.
She's felt that she had been reborn almost.
It was a spiritual, religious experience for her.
(VHS tape loading, music playing) >> At first, Ginni was feeling pretty good about it, and felt like it was maybe, you know, strengthening her, but then there were some troubling exercises.
>> (shouting) (woman panting, man shouting encouragement) >> (sobbing loudly) Nobody ever held me.
>> One of them was something called the stripper, where they, they stood in a U-shape and they disrobed, they took off their clothes, and they made fun of people's bodies and the fat people.
And she realized that this was sort of more than just a spiritual journey.
That there was just some kind of cult-like stripping down of the self.
And it was dangerous.
>> NARRATOR: Ginni's parents and closest friends were also worried.
>> Ginni felt that she'd been misled, led astray.
And so, she wanted to get out.
(people talking softly) And she turned to a deprogrammer, a counselor, for help in getting out.
>> She was somebody who had been to hell and back and she was going to stand up and speak publicly about, you know, about saving others from the similar, a similar fate.
>> She was angry that she had fallen victim to a group like this.
When she goes into something, she does it fully, with all her heart.
And when she leaves something and feels betrayed, and angry, she is against it with all her heart.
♪ ♪ >> I spoke to her minister.
And I guess he gave me the greatest insight into her.
He said that she's a very, very trusting person that you have to be careful with.
He told me that he thought it was that kind of trusting quality that led her to Lifespring, that she believed in, in them until, until she was burned.
♪ ♪ >> How are you?
>> (answers softly) (camera shutter clicking) (chuckles) >> If you're interested in it, I got you a jar of jellybeans for your birthday.
>> (laughing): >> NARRATOR: He was 38 years old, in the Oval Office, with the president of the United States.
>> He's one of the highest-ranking African American officials in the government, and he's seen as someone, you know, certainly on the rise.
People already are eyeing him, thinking, "Well, maybe we could get this guy prepared for a Supreme Court seat."
>> NARRATOR: He'd paid his dues by being the front man for Reagan on issues of race.
>> I think that the president is, has, has really been treated unfairly in the media with respect to his views on minorities.
>> NARRATOR: Especially affirmative action, which Thomas came to see as deeply flawed and insincere.
>> Where you do run into the conflict is when you have a system set up under the guise of affirmative action that is called "preferential treatment."
>> He's playing the role of a Black conservative.
He's, he's playing the role of a Black Reaganite.
>> The president has been singularly supportive.
He supports us where it counts.
>> He's giving the Reagan administration cover, so that when people say, you know, "The Reagan administration is racist," Reagan can say, "Well, you know, you can't say that.
"Look at these... (shutter clicks) "Look, look at these people over here.
"Look at this guy, Clarence Thomas.
>> I support you.
>> "Look at what he's saying, he's, he's with us."
>> Thank you, this has been the highlight of my career.
I'm a little bit nervous.
(chuckles) Thank you very much.
>> NARRATOR: For Clarence Thomas, it had been a long journey to the White House.
Unable to get a prestigious job out of law school, he'd settled for a low-paying job as a staff lawyer for the Republican attorney general for Missouri, Jack Danforth.
>> When I first met Clarence, I told him that I would offer him more work on less pay than anybody else interviewing at Yale Law School.
And he took the job.
>> NARRATOR: He followed Danforth to the United States Senate, where he worked as a staffer.
>> Danforth offers Clarence Thomas a job in Washington, which is kind of a turning point in Clarence Thomas's career.
He's, has said that he wants to be a big courtroom litigator and make a ton of money, but that's not really happening.
I think at this point, what you can see is, he's ambitious.
He decides maybe he can make it in government.
He can get to the top there faster than in corporate America.
(siren blaring) >> NARRATOR: But as he rose in Washington, there was trouble in his personal life.
>> Moving to Washington had done nothing to ease the dissatisfaction I felt with my marriage.
I hated myself for my inability to be the loving, devoted husband Kathy deserved.
>> NARRATOR: His marriage was falling apart.
He was struggling to raise his young son and dealing with crippling debt.
>> They're young.
They had a son early.
It was very difficult, I think, to keep that marriage together in the early years.
And I think they just kind of drifted apart.
>> I grew despondent and resigned.
I drank more heavily than ever before.
I knew I was on the road to trouble.
>> When I first met Clarence, he, more than anything else, is a very angry person.
He was self-medicating when I met him with alcohol.
>> NARRATOR: Lillian McEwen was a lawyer for Senator Joe Biden on the Judiciary Committee.
She met Thomas as he was going through a divorce.
>> Clarence was in the midst of a lot of changes in his life, and so I would pretty much just listen to whatever it was that he had to say about his childhood, about what was going on with him.
>> NARRATOR: As they began dating, Lillian found Clarence to be ambitious and determined.
>> I would say that every act that Clarence performed at work and socially was always geared toward getting ahead and making sure that he was doing what was necessary to take the next step, whatever that was.
>> The idea has already occurred to him by 1981 that if he plays his cards right, he could be on the Supreme Court.
He's telling people that.
This is so long before it happens.
But he's got a plan in the back of his mind.
And he knows that he needs to keep doing the right things, punching the right cards, meeting the right people, making the right friends, and it might happen.
>> NARRATOR: One important step-- he had joined a small circle of conservative Black Republicans.
>> You're an ambitious, you know, Black person.
You have a Yale Law School degree.
It makes a lot of sense to go where the, where the line is shorter.
It's, it's a long line in, you know, with the Democrats.
A lot, a lot of people over there.
Much shorter line with the Republicans.
>> NARRATOR: He'd been tilting conservative since leaving law school, and now began to flesh out his conservative ideology.
He reconnected with his former Yale classmate.
>> At one point, he said, "Can you send me some books or something that might be worth reading?"
And so I put together a bunch of things I thought he might be interested in reading and sent them out.
I think he went through, clearly, an evolution.
He had certainly become much more conservative, really out of, outside of Yale Law School, out in the real world.
>> You've heard about Clarence Thomas, but not by name.
He is one of the Black people now on center stage in American politics.
He is a Republican.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas would put himself in the spotlight, making controversial comments in "The Washington Post."
>> Thomas is also a man who has a sister on welfare back in his home state of Georgia, but he feels that he must be opposed to welfare because of the dependency it can breed in a person.
"She [his sister] gets mad when the mailman is late with her welfare check," he says.
"That is how dependent she is.
"What's worse is that now her kids feel entitled "to the check, too.
"They have no motivation for doing better or getting out of that situation."
>> It hit pretty hard.
Folks in Savannah, their first reaction was, "Why would you talk about your sister in public?"
You know, we, we don't do that.
That's not Black Savannah.
You know, if you got something to say about your sister, you don't like what she did or whatever, you don't publicize that.
You know, you keep that in the family.
>> NARRATOR: But in Reagan's Washington, the article propelled Thomas.
>> Ronald Reagan, you know, was famous for denouncing welfare queens.
So, wow, you know, here is, you know, a Yale Law School graduate who's African American and who's talking about how terrible it is that his sister was on welfare.
(shutter clicks) That was like manna from heaven for Ronald Reagan.
>> NARRATOR: Reagan elevated Thomas to run the E.E.O.C., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
>> This is a real journey that Clarence Thomas makes, from modest, humble origins to the top of one's profession, and, ultimately, to a leading position in American government.
>> NARRATOR: Now, for the first time in his life, Clarence Thomas was in charge.
But people who knew him then saw disturbing changes.
>> His personality, his aggressiveness sexually-- everything changed.
He became a different person after he, after he got that job.
He stopped drinking alcohol, so he was not self-medicating anymore, and his mood swings were quite obvious.
>> He never really seemed to be anyone who took any particular joy in anything, unless it was denigrating someone or somebody.
And then he'd just guffaw after he made such a comment.
(shutter clicks) >> NARRATOR: Angela Wright was Thomas's communications director.
>> I think he really, really wanted to, um, just sort of prove to conservative White people that, you know, he was their guy.
He just took such pride in denigrating Black people.
He is taking stereotypes and laughing at them, and making White people feel comfortable in his presence because he's the first one to make the racial joke.
>> He comes up with derogatory nicknames for people.
He bullies some of the weaker people.
He makes fun of them.
He's supposed to be running an organization that protects, for instance, older people in the workplace, and he tells his underlings to get rid of an older guy in the office 'cause he's too old.
He says, "He's got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel."
>> There was a woman on his staff who was a little person, and I remember him specifically saying-- forgive my language, but this is what he said-- "She got that big ass."
Despite the fact that sexual harassment was against the law, people just let it roll off.
>> NARRATOR: Eventually, Thomas fired Angela Wright and Lillian McEwen concluded she'd had it with Clarence.
>> I, I just couldn't tolerate it anymore.
And I didn't like what he was becoming.
I didn't like the speeches that he was giving.
I didn't like the positions that he was taking.
I didn't like the embrace that he was getting from the most horrible people in the Republican Party.
I, I couldn't tolerate it.
This was his plan.
This was his karma.
This was how he wanted to go through the world.
And, but I wanted nothing to do with it.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Ginni Lamp finally met the man of her dreams.
>> We first met in the spring of 1986 at an affirmative action conference in New York City.
♪ ♪ Clarence was then E.E.O.C.
I was a labor relations attorney at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
♪ ♪ >> When she sat in that meeting with him for the first time and saw him, what she saw, in her own words, was a powerful man.
>> And they kind of strike up a friendship at this conference.
They're both there speaking.
They get a cab together, you know, and that kind of, you know, touches off this romance.
♪ ♪ >> She shared a taxi with him to the airport.
When she asked him, "How do you feel about being a Black man "in the Reagan administration?
How do you deal with critics?"
And he pulled out his wallet and, and found, and showed her the prayers that he recites every day that kind of fortify him.
>> Keep a clear eye toward life's end.
Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God's creature.
>> She said it was a humbling experience, seeing a person who lived their values, their Christian values.
For her, I think that was the moment of connection.
>> NARRATOR: Just a few months later, Ginni and Clarence were engaged.
>> The whole thing is so improbable, it's a novel.
It's a novel I wouldn't believe.
It's just that these people in such dissimilar worlds end up getting together and being of such enormous political consequence.
You can't make it up, it's so extraordinary.
>> NARRATOR: But they had important similarities.
>> Clarence Thomas is at odds with the civil rights movement.
He's against affirmative action.
Ginni Thomas is at odds with the feminist movement and she's opposed to equal pay for women.
In some ways, they really have a lot in common politically and in terms of sort of where they position themselves in sort of opposition to the, the politics of their, their own generation.
♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Soon, out in Omaha, Ginni Lamp... (shutter clicks) ...became Ginni Thomas.
>> When she got married to Justice Thomas back in Omaha, she didn't tell people that she was marrying a Black man.
She just said, "I'm getting married."
And so the guests show up at the wedding and they're shocked that he, she's marrying a Black guy.
And one of her relatives was quoted in "The Washington Post" as saying, "Well, we were surprised "when he turned out to be Black.
"But, you know, when we got to know him, he's so good to her, that it made up for him being Black."
(chuckling): And so it was obvious this person, and maybe others, thought him being Black was a bad thing.
>> NARRATOR: Those who knew him from his Black Power days at Holy Cross were also surprised.
>> Thomas, when he was a student at Holy Cross, he was... (chuckles) He was sort of adamantly opposed to interracial marriage.
He thought that Black people should marry Black people, and, you know, we should embrace as community.
And he would even point out interracial couples.
>> I find it a little ironic to evolve from that position to being married to a White lady.
Okay, well, that's how life does it.
I never thought when he was at Holy Cross that he'd be part of Ronald Reagan's team, also.
But you follow the path that God puts before us.
(chuckling): And I guess God sent him to Ginni, I don't know.
♪ ♪ I leave that up between them.
♪ ♪ (siren blaring) ♪ ♪ >> A stunning decision at the Supreme Court.
Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement from the Supreme Court today.
>> On a court that's leaning to the conservative right, his departure signals a major change for the court.
>> The great Thurgood Marshall, Mr. Civil Rights, retires.
>> I'm old!
(audience laughs) I'm getting old and coming apart.
>> The search is on for a Supreme Court nominee with the retirement of Justice Thurgood Marshall.
>> Is the president expecting pressure to appoint another Black American?
>> You bet he is, Peter, I think that pressure is bound to be forthcoming.
>> The Washington rumor mill has gone into overdrive this morning trying to figure out... >> President Bush said he would pick someone representative of all Americans.
>> But should that person be Black?
>> Well, I am very pleased to announce that I will nominate Clarence Thomas to serve as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.
>> Clarence Thomas is nominated.
Now, you know, immediately, there are certain things that happen that, you know, get my attention.
First, did race have anything to do with this?
>> What I did was look for the best man.
And the fact that he is Black and a minority has nothing to do with this in the sense that he is the best qualified at this time.
>> Well, I mean, you know, who believes that?
Clarence Thomas stands to be one of the great beneficiaries in American life of affirmative action.
>> (chuckling) >> Mr. President?
>> (coughs) >> NARRATOR: He was only 43 years old.
He'd spent just one year as a federal appeals court judge.
But he'd built a strong reputation as a conservative and strong connections with Washington Republicans.
>> He got that through networking.
He was in the right place at the right time.
He had the right support, people behind him.
He was connected pretty well.
>> He has settled on the 43-year-old appeals court judge Clarence Thomas.
>> Replacing the court's first and only African American with another African American.
>> Reaction has been flowing and ricocheting ever since.
>> Clarence Thomas is a self-made man with many self-made enemies.
>> Liberals have been scared about Clarence Thomas for years.
>> What impact will Clarence Thomas have on the high court?
>> (chuckles) I thought I'd be able to sneak in.
>> Oh, shush.
>> (laughing) (man speaking indistinctly) >> (laughing): Yeah.
>> Have a good day.
>> Thanks, now... (people cheering and applauding) >> He could not have been prepared for the mob of still photographers, TV cameras, reporters, police, and senators which engulfed him this morning.
>> It promises to be a political, ideological, and cultural event of historic proportions.
(gavel banging) >> The hearing will come to order.
Good morning, Judge.
Welcome to the blinding lights.
>> The Democrats, politically, they were in a very difficult position.
It's very difficult to attack an African American judge, and they wanted to befriend him, not attack him.
Certainly that was true for Biden.
>> Heck, you're six, seven years younger than-- I'm 48.
How old are you, Judge, 42, 43?
>> Well, I've aged over the last ten weeks, but... (audience laughs) I'm 43.
>> 43 years old.
>> He was advised-- I know this-- to be very careful, to be very modest.
"They're going to ask you about every controversial issue that has ever come before the Supreme Court."
(shutter clicks) >> In the area of civil rights...
I don't remember or recall participating... >> He's told to just basically sit there like a potted plant and don't say too much.
It's insulting in a way, but he, he does...
He, he does what he's told.
(shutter clicks) >> I think that to take a position would undermine my ability to be impartial.
>> There did come a point at which people said, "Well, hold it."
Uh, you know, "Maybe you don't know enough to be a justice."
(shutter clicks) >> ...um, would undermine my impartiality... (shutter clicks) ...really undermine my ability to be impartial.
>> It, it was just laughable.
♪ ♪ >> Clarence Thomas basically played the role so well as a cipher that he'd said things that seemed, just on the surface, very hard to believe, such as that he had never, ever debated the Roe v. Wade decision.
>> What I'm trying to do, Senator, is to respond to your question and at the same time not offer a particular view on this difficult issue of abortion that would undermine my impartiality.
>> It plays into his fears, if you will.
Because he's very sensitive, more than that, to how people perceive him.
He worries about how people see him as a Black man, so that had to bother him.
(gavel pounding) >> NARRATOR: But as the hearings concluded, it seemed like confirmation was imminent.
Senator Jack Danforth had shepherded Thomas through the process.
>> I can remember thinking, "Well, we've got, you know, however many votes."
There was no question that he was going to get confirmed.
So we've got this.
So it was, I just felt... You know, I didn't feel threatened, or that there was any threat at all.
>> Clarence Thomas ran into trouble today.
>> Questions are growing over charges of sexual harassment against Thomas.
>> The FBI did indeed interview Anita Hill, a former subordinate of Thomas's... >> The effect was to create chaos and a great deal of uncertainty about what would happen to Clarence Thomas's nomination.
>> ...with the potential for political explosion on Capitol Hill.
>> It was one of those explosions where no one in Washington knew what was going to happen, not even the White House.
>> Trouble today for Clarence Thomas, enough trouble that some senators are calling for a postponement of this week's confirmation vote.
>> These 11th-hour sexual harassment charges stunned Washington.
>> Hill emphasized she has nothing to gain by making allegations against Thomas and resents those who question her motives.
>> I went out to his house.
It was a big media stakeout outside of his house.
That was excellent.
(man mumbles) Excellent driving.
And so I went in.
And I have never had an experience like that.
Because he was a broken man.
He was just broken.
He couldn't sleep, according to his wife.
He was in a fetal position in bed.
He couldn't eat.
Boy, I mean, to see somebody you care about suffering that much?
And, um, it, it was just, it was just terrible.
>> I lay across the bed and curled up in a fetal position, tired beyond imagining.
I felt like a marathon runner who had hit the wall.
All my reserves were used up.
(gavel banging) >> The stage is set for what everyone anticipates will be a brutal hearing.
>> NARRATOR: Later that week, Anita Hill testified.
>> Now in the nation's capital and before the world, an emotional dispute of historic proportions.
>> Professor, do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
>> I do.
>> Thank you.
♪ ♪ >> Mr. Chairman.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas was at home.
>> Members of the committee.
>> NARRATOR: He told Ginni he wouldn't watch.
>> My name is Anita F. Hill.
>> NARRATOR: But she did.
>> His conversations were very vivid.
He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes.
>> It was incredibly compelling television.
You know, she was gorgeous, composed, obviously projecting sincerity.
>> On other occasions, he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger than normal and he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had given to women... (exhales) ...with oral sex.
He said that if I ever told anyone of his behavior that it would ruin his career.
>> There's an anger and suspicion that washes over Ginni Thomas.
She sees others attacking her husband, attacking her, attacking their core beliefs.
She sees that outside world that's attacking her as something that needs to be beaten down.
Something that needs to be destroyed.
>> It was spiritual warfare.
Good versus evil.
We were fighting something we didn't understand.
We needed God.
>> It's a reprisal of the kind of ideology Ginni Thomas had from her Birch Society days.
Um, they regarded the, their opponents as enemies and, and practically, you know, Satanic.
So she says, "You've gotta fight.
Fight back against these sort of evil tormentors."
>> NARRATOR: That night, the Thomases traveled back to the Capitol, to Jack Danforth's office.
>> We sat with Thomas.
He, with Jack Danforth, Thomas...
There weren't very many people in the room.
And I just looked over, and I said, "Did this happen?"
He said, "I'm, I'm, I'm torn to bits.
This didn't happen."
And I told him my theory of political life: an attack unanswered is an attack believed.
Not only that, but agreed to.
And he was teary.
>> I told him that he should go up and look at the senators, and Senator Ted Kennedy was on that program, and he should quote the Bible and he should say, "Judge not that you be not judged; condemn not that you be not condemned, Senators."
He wouldn't say that.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas had something else in mind.
>> He just sat there in my office, and it was darkened, and it was quiet.
That was when he said to me, "Jack, you know what this is?
It's a lynching, it's a high-tech lynching."
I said, "Clarence," I said, "if that's the way you feel, go up and say it."
(shutters clicking, people murmuring) (gavel banging) (shutters clicking) (pounding slowly) >> The hearing will come to order.
(shutters clicking) >> Clarence Thomas had people standing behind him-- first and foremost, his wife, who by her presence made it obvious that she believed that these were lies.
She had to be there.
>> I felt such anger and revulsion looking at some of those senators.
I was watching them and I felt like my eyes were laser beams.
They wouldn't look at me.
These little people.
They seemed so small, and our purpose seemed so great.
Tough day and a tough night for you, I know.
Let me ask, do you have anything you'd like to say?
Do you have anything you'd like to say?
>> Senator, I would like to start by saying unequivocally, uncategorically, that I deny each and every single allegation against me today that's suggested in any way that I had conversations of a sexual nature or about pornographic material with Anita Hill, that I ever attempted to date her, that I ever had any personal sexual interest in her, or that I in any way ever harassed her.
>> His testimony was very much, you know, sort of absolute against, stark, black-and-white, nope.
I can't think of a way of reconciling these stories, right, that wouldn't mean that someone perjured, but clearly someone, someone lied.
>> I think that this today is a travesty.
I think that it is disgusting.
I think something is dreadfully wrong with this country.
♪ ♪ >> That's the real Clarence Thomas.
"They've come for me at the jugular.
"And I'm a man.
"I am a man here before you.
"I'm furious about the way I'm being treated.
"You're going to do what you're going to do, "but I'm going to hold a dignified line in defense of my integrity."
>> This is a circus.
It's a national disgrace.
And from my standpoint, as a Black American, as far as I'm concerned, it is a high-tech lynching.
You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured, by a committee of the U.S., U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.
(shutters clicking) >> When everything was on the line, he knew what to say.
(snaps) There are a lot of people who rush to his side.
They disagree with him.
(laughing): They disagree with him about lots of things.
But he blew that whistle, and there were lots of Black people who immediately went to his side.
>> We're, we're sitting there saying, "Give it to 'em, Clarence, give it to 'em."
We done been here before.
We had to live through this in Savannah.
When they try to beat you down, what do you do?
You fight back.
That's the way we do it here.
And so we were very proud of him and we were roaring him on.
>> NARRATOR: In a moment, the politics had changed.
Chairman Biden and the committee moved quickly.
>> On this vote, the yeas are 52, and the nays are 48.
>> NARRATOR: Within days, Clarence Thomas had realized his ambitions.
>> The nomination of Clarence Thomas of Georgia is hereby confirmed.
>> NARRATOR: A permanent seat on the United States Supreme Court.
But he would never forget those who had opposed him.
>> He invited me to come and visit him in his chambers.
And, you know, he...
If I were a novelist, this is how I would paint the scene, you know.
He sits back in his chair, he puts his feet up on his desk, he takes a puff from a cigar, he says, "I'm going to be here forever."
You know-- "They've had their say.
"Now, in my leisure, I will have my say.
"I'm here, I'm planted.
"They're going to have to deal with me.
I'll be here forever."
He was going to get his, as it were, "revenge" simply by putting one foot in front of the other, day in, day out, year in, year out.
"And they can make all the noise, "they can scream like banshees.
"They can scream.
"But the fact of the matter is, I'm going to be writing those opinions."
♪ ♪ (shutter clicks) >> He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films... >> NARRATOR: The Anita Hill allegations would not go away.
(shutter clicks) >> I deny each and every single allegation against me today.
>> Well, I'm just sitting there thinking, "Clear"-- I'm just saying, "This man is a liar," is what I'm thinking.
I'm thinking, "Lie, lie."
(shutter clicks) >> NARRATOR: Biden's committee never called Angela Wright or a number of other witnesses to testify.
(shutter clicks) >> The comments ranged from pressing me about why I didn't go out with him to remarks about my personal appearance.
>> Anita Hill is probably telling the truth, because I can remember him asking me what size my boobs were, asking me about going out with him, even though I had expressed no interest in going out with him.
>> There were other women, and they didn't get a chance to testify.
There was the speechwriter, the older woman, Rose Jourdain, who had, who talked to Angela Wright about her experiences.
There was a woman named Kaye Savage who was willing to describe that, that she'd gone to Clarence Thomas's apartment and that he had a huge interest in pornography.
(shutter clicks) >> I deny that I had conversations about pornographic material with Anita Hill.
>> NARRATOR: Watching as well, Lillian McEwen, who dated Thomas during his time at the E.E.O.C.
>> Clarence is one of those guys who look at women as sexual objects.
And he doesn't bother to hide it.
(shutter clicks) >> He talked about pornographic material depicting individuals with large penises or large breasts.
>> He had stacks of magazines with pictures of genitalia and also women's huge breasts.
That was pretty much what was... Men's and women's genitalia.
(chuckles) That was pretty much what his, his collection consisted of.
>> NARRATOR: For others, it was the little details that stood out.
(shutter clicks) >> He went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can, and asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"
>> I heard him say that before.
He said it before.
We were in the, uh, Hogan Campus Center, and a group of us Black students were walking by.
And he says, "Oh, look.
Is that pubic hair on a Coke can?"
Those were the exact words he used then, and I heard it later on, when Anita Hill spoke it.
So, I believe what she said.
She was telling the truth.
>> He liked adult films.
He made jokes.
Thomas was inappropriate and things like that.
That all stacked up on Anita Hill's side of the, of the ledger.
So, you know, I think if I had to say who lied, it was Thomas.
>> Both Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas were under oath.
So one of them was perjuring themselves.
And the problem was, if the person who was lying was Clarence Thomas, it was someone who was going to be one of nine of the most important judges in America for the rest of his life, and for decades to come.
Somebody with enormous unchecked power, somebody who could decide the fate of many, many other people.
So much was hanging in the balance.
And, and it has ever since.
♪ ♪ (wildlife chittering, birds cawing) (shutters clicking, people talking in background) >> NARRATOR: Clarence Thomas had prevailed, but he saw his accomplishment questioned, even dismissed, once again.
>> Immediately after that confirmation in the early 1990s, I can remember some of these commentators dismissing him, writing him off, giving him the back of his hand, calling him second-rate, stupid, incompetent, venal, and whatever.
>> There are other Black Americans that are out there that are qualified, that are bright, and I don't think he's qualified.
I think he's a second-rate jurist and an opportunist and, and not totally honest about a lot of things.
>> NARRATOR: In those early years, Thomas was overshadowed by another conservative justice, Antonin Scalia.
>> You have Scalia, you know, who is this gregarious, big, large figure and is the dominant conservative on the court.
>> Look, Scalia cast a giant shadow because he was, you know, Scalia.
He's one of the most powerful intellects ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court.
>> Many people looked at Thomas as kind of Scalia light.
Somebody that was not, did not have the heft and the intellectual firepower and the ability to debate.
♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: Thomas told people he stopped reading mainstream news.
>> ...garbage with Anita Hill... >> NARRATOR: Instead, he relied on two primary sources-- his wife and Rush Limbaugh.
>> Greetings and welcome back.
I knew he didn't do it.
I knew Clarence Thomas didn't do it.
Anita Hill's stories about Clarence Thomas were not true.
>> He would listen to Rush Limbaugh when he, as he was doing a long commute, and he would have court staff tape-record it, so he could listen to it when he was commuting.
>> Your attempt to assuage all of your White guilt by supporting Obama is worthless, because you know he's not a real Black.
If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it's Caucasians.
(shutter clicks) >> NARRATOR: The two became close friends.
>> The fear was, Clarence Thomas is confirmed, he then becomes the most powerful, influential Black man in America.
(shutter clicks) And he is not a Democrat and he's not a liberal.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas even presided over one of Limbaugh's weddings.
(shutter clicks) >> Throughout his career, he's been willing to do things that were certainly eyebrow-raising.
Justice Thomas, you know, seemed to relish his close relationship with Rush Limbaugh as a way of, you know, giving the finger to people who, you know, he didn't like.
>> A misogynist is a guy who hates women almost as much as women hate women.
>> NARRATOR: Thomas was establishing his place in the world of White conservative Republicans.
>> He found another group to, to accept him.
He had found the conservatives.
(shutter clicks, people laughing in background) He found the powerful.
(shutter clicks) He found the rich.
(shutter clicks) He found all these other people who will accept him.
And not necessarily because they like him, but because he's powerful.
>> NARRATOR: One of those wealthy conservatives was Harlan Crow.
>> Harlan Crow has given millions of dollars to Republican candidates, and Crow has taken a special interest in funding groups that are involved specifically in trying to shape the law and the courts-- trying to sort of push the law in a conservative direction.
>> NARRATOR: Their friendship was commemorated with a painting.
>> This was a painting that Harlan Crow commissioned.
We have Clarence Thomas and Harlan Crow both smoking cigars, and across from them is Leonard Leo.
Leonard Leo is one of the leaders of the Federalist Society.
He is widely regarded as, you know, a principal architect of the Supreme Court and the judiciary's turn to the right.
>> NARRATOR: Crow even helped fund a documentary that aired on PBS promoting Thomas as a humble man.
♪ ♪ >> One of Clarence's biggest loves is when he can get away from Washington, D.C., and be on the road in his motorhome.
♪ ♪ >> You know, I don't have any problem with going to Europe, but I prefer the United States.
I prefer the RV parks.
I prefer the Walmart parking lots.
I come from regular stock, and I prefer that.
I prefer being around that.
>> NARRATOR: But out of the public eye, Thomas was living a very different life.
>> Harlan Crow has been taking Clarence Thomas on luxury vacations, really around the world, for more than 20 years.
(shutter clicks) So we're talking flights on his private jet.
(shutter clicks) Cruises on his very, very large yacht in places like Indonesia and New Zealand.
(shutter clicks) Stays at Harlan Crow's resort up in the Adirondacks.
Compared to somebody that's a partner at a big D.C. law firm that might be making two or three million a year, like, these Supreme Court justices are paupers.
Thomas could not afford to take the kinds of vacations that Crow is, is taking him on.
>> NARRATOR: Crow has denied any wrongdoing and Thomas says he wasn't required to disclose who paid for the trips, which were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
>> It shows that he is comfortable accepting largesse at a scale that has no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.
>> NARRATOR: And Crow paid tens of thousands of dollars for Thomas's grandnephew to attend private boarding schools.
>> NARRATOR: Crow also purchased Thomas's childhood home directly from him and other relatives.
>> After Crow bought Thomas's mother's house, she continued to live there, for about going on ten years now, which obviously puts Crow in the rather unusual position of being the landlord, effectively, to a sitting Supreme Court justice's mother.
>> NARRATOR: Crow even gave Ginni Thomas's conservative advocacy group $500,000.
It paid her a salary of $120,000.
>> When you have a friendship, even if it's a genuine friendship, and there's an enormous amount of money being spent by one party on gifts and real estate deals, that, that pushes the relationship into a totally different light.
>> NARRATOR: Crow and Thomas describe their relationship as a normal friendship.
But their ties have raised questions about the high court's independence.
And Thomas's opinions have often been in line with the conservative politics of his friends.
(siren blaring) In Gore v. Bush, he provided one of the crucial five votes for delivering the White House to the Republicans.
>> The Democrat Party accused the Supreme Court of being rigged for Bush.
>> NARRATOR: He insisted that key parts of the Voting Rights Act were unconstitutional.
>> The end of a key element of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
>> NARRATOR: He argued against laws regulating guns.
>> What do Democrats want?
>> NARRATOR: He called for the overturn of Roe versus Wade.
>> Roses are red, violets are blue, see you later, I aborted you.
>> NARRATOR: And on one of his most personal issues, he declared he would ban affirmative action.
>> Affirmative action is not equality.
Clarence Thomas, what a godsend.
You give me a country run by Clarence Thomas, and I would sign up for it tomorrow.
>> NARRATOR: The closer Thomas aligned with the conservative world, the greater the divide with the politics and perspective of the world he'd grown up in.
>> Look, he voted against the Voting Rights Act.
We grew up in Savannah when King was marching and struggling and dying to pass the Voting Rights Act.
How can the African American community, how do, how are they to perceive it?
And why would he do it?
I think the overall opinion in the African American community was, he's no longer us, he's them.
>> In many parts of Black America, he is not celebrated.
In fact, in much of Black America, just the opposite, he's derided.
His name stands for something.
You know, to pull a, to pull a Clarence Thomas, that means something.
To pull a Clarence Thomas means to use your Blackness to, you know, reach a high place, and then turn your back on it.
That is to pull a Clarence Thomas.
Gosh, he knows that, and he cannot be happy with that.
>> You want to be thought of as a good Black man or woman, not as a traitor, or a turncoat, a sellout.
On the other hand, the idea that "I will think for myself "and I won't be told what to think just because of the color of my skin" is one that very powerfully animated Clarence Thomas.
"If somebody's going to tell me I'm not Black "because thinking for myself, I arrived at certain conclusions "that they didn't like, you question my authenticity?
"You, you question my legitimacy?
I take umbrage at that, I don't, I don't appreciate that."
♪ ♪ >> Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system.
At the tone, please record your message.
(voicemail beeps) >> Good morning.
Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas.
And I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something.
I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.
>> NARRATOR: It had been nearly two decades since the confirmation hearings.
>> So, give it some thought.
I certainly pray about this and hope that one day you'll help us understand why you did what you did.
Have a good day.
(call ends) >> NARRATOR: Ginni Thomas had been rising inside the Republican Party.
>> Republican politics keep moving toward her.
And it keeps moving right.
And there she is, right where it's, where it's moving, each step along the way.
>> The Republican revolution of election '94 moved the whole political landscape sharply to the right.
>> NARRATOR: When hard-right Republicans seized control of the House, Ginni became an aide to one of the leaders, Dick Armey.
>> She shared my values, my beliefs, and my understanding of the world.
>> NARRATOR: They called him "Dr.
>> I enjoy calling the left down.
They're a bunch of damn clowns.
I think they should be mocked and ridiculed.
And I, and I think they should be given no deference whatsoever.
They're foolish and selfish.
>> We the people... (crowd cheering) >> NARRATOR: Years later, as the Tea Party rose up, Ginni Thomas, the pep rally Warrior Woman, cheered them on.
>> They think they can intimidate you, they think they can demoralize you.
(crowd cheering) >> Ginni Thomas seems to absolutely adore the Tea Party movement.
>> Are you going to be intimidated?
>> (yelling): No!
>> Me, either.
Are you gonna be demoralized?
>> (yelling): No!
>> Me, either.
I'm gonna find... >> These are people who are ordinary people rising up in anger against the government.
It's very much kind of an echo of the same strain in American politics that she grew up in in the John Birch Society.
And these become her people.
>> And they say a storm was coming.
They ain't seen nothin' yet, right?
(crowd cheers and applauds) Whoo!
>> As Republicanism itself has changed and gotten more nationalistic, and more populist, and more aggressive, and, in my view, less defensible, she's sort of blown with those winds, as well.
>> While her husband was very limited in what he could do or say politically, she saw herself as having more running room, more freedom to get out there and play a hands-on role in rallying and organizing conservatives.
She saw herself as on the same mission as her husband, but in a much more partisan, political, hands-on, practical kind of way.
>> (in response): Freedom!
>> She came to Washington hoping to run for Congress, and she found another path to power.
She's fully committed to politics.
She's fully committed to her beliefs and her agenda.
She's going to make a difference in the world.
She just had to find a different way.
>> We're up against a very big battle.
(protesters chanting) There may be some dark days ahead.
>> (chanting): U.S.A.!
>> I know there's dark days ahead.
♪ ♪ ("Hail to the Chief" playing) >> Please raise your right hand and repeat after me: I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear... >> NARRATOR: Clarence and Ginni Thomas's power reached a new level when Donald Trump was elected president.
>> Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage.
They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.
(crowd cheering) >> Donald Trump is a divider who, very much like Ginni Thomas, sort of sees America's political divisions as fights, wars, good versus evil.
>> The radical left are trying to rip our nation apart.
>> We're up against a fascist left, and so this is a battle.
They're coming for my husband.
They're coming for President Trump.
>> What's interesting is, she became a voice for pushing Trump even further to the right.
>> May we all have guns and concealed carry to handle what's coming, by the way.
(audience applauds) (shutters clicking) >> Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States and Mrs. Virginia Thomas.
>> NARRATOR: In the Trump White House, the Thomases were honored guests.
And now, after the death of Justice Scalia, it was Clarence Thomas who was feted as a hero of MAGA Republicans.
>> With Scalia's passing, the attention just started focusing on Thomas.
People are paying more attention, particularly on the right, to what Thomas is saying, and seeing that, as those of us who know him always knew, he's his own man.
>> NARRATOR: Trump moved to secure Thomas's hold on the court, appointing three new conservative justices.
>> I will nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch... Judge Brett Kavanaugh... Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
(audience cheers and applauds) >> This gave Clarence Thomas, for the first time in all the time he'd been on the court, a group of justices who would side with him.
And it gave him power.
He became kind of the leader in many ways of the conservative wing of the court, and the conservative wing of the court ruled.
They would have normally called it the Roberts Court, but everybody began to see it as the Thomas Court.
>> NARRATOR: Ginni Thomas was expanding her own influence, too.
She had direct access to the White House to lobby the administration.
>> It's no secret that Ginni Thomas wields power because of who her husband is.
She gets doors opened for her.
She gets invited into the, the important rooms, into the important discussions... (shutter clicks) ...because her husband is Clarence Thomas.
(shutter clicks) >> Here's Ginni being Phyllis Schlafly, but at the center of things.
(shutter clicks) Of power in Washington.
Phyllis Schlafly never had the person-to-person political on-the-ground influence, I think, and, and centrality that Ginni Thomas has carved out for herself.
>> NARRATOR: But then, the 2020 election.
>> The Fox News Decision Desk can now project that former Vice President Joe Biden will win Pennsylvania and Nevada.
>> He is President-Elect Joseph Robinette Biden.
>> ...become the 46th president of the United States.
>> Ginni is absolutely shattered.
She's upset in a way that is very sincere and genuine.
She truly believes that Joe Biden is a force of immense evil who is going to destroy America.
Remember, Joe Biden presided over Clarence Thomas's confirmation hearings.
So Ginni views Biden not just as any regular presidential candidate, but as almost a personal enemy.
>> We were getting ready to win this election.
Frankly, we did win this election.
(crowd cheering) >> NARRATOR: As MAGA protesters were taking to the streets, Ginni Thomas was working from the inside.
She texted messages to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
(phone chimes) >> Do not concede.
It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back.
You guys fold, the evil just moves fast down underneath you all.
>> In those text messages, it's not just texting Mark Meadows, it's saying that she could send emails to Jared Kushner.
It's that she was working directly with congressional staffs.
All of that is revealed.
(shutter clicks) >> NARRATOR: Denver Riggleman was a former Republican congressman and investigator for the January 6 committee.
He helped uncover the text messages.
>> You know, by the first text message, I knew that we had an issue, right?
She referring to a bizarre conspiracy theorist who talked about this incredible operation where the Biden crime family should go to Gitmo.
And I just, I had to read it about ten times.
(phone chimes) >> Biden crime family and ballot fraud co-conspirators are being arrested and detained for ballot fraud right now and over coming days, and will be living in barges off Gitmo to face military tribunals for sedition.
>> Ginni had something of a break with reality, because even though we've seen her say a lot of stuff that's out there, we had not until this point seen her promote conspiracy theories on the level of QAnon with such vigor and certitude.
(phone chimes) >> Make a plan.
Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.
>> NARRATOR: Riggleman is convinced Justice Thomas had to know what his wife was doing, even though the couple has said they keep their work lives separate.
>> When you have the wife of a Supreme Court justice who's, who, they both have called each other their best friends, and said that they do everything together, it would defy common sense to think that they weren't discussing this.
(phone chimes) >> This is spiritual warfare, as you must feel, Mark!
It is about America continuing, and this lonely leader and man.
We are living through what feels like the end of America.
The end of liberty?
>> She has this very dark, Manichaean view.
You're either good or you're evil, and everything is a battle between good and evil.
And no wonder, then, she advocates extreme steps in her texts to Mark Meadows, because for her, the battle between Biden and Trump, just like the battle between Republicans and Democrats on anything, it's good versus evil.
"We're good, they're evil."
>> (chanting): Fight for Trump!
Fight for Trump!
>> NARRATOR: On the morning of January 6... >> We will never concede... >> NARRATOR: ...as Trump supporters gathered, Ginni Thomas was there among the crowd... (phone chimes) ...posting on Facebook.
>> It's unprecedented and extraordinary that the wife of a Supreme Court justice, one of nine, who's on the court for life, that she was basically advocating for the overthrow of democracy in America.
(phone chimes) >> God bless each of you standing up or praying.
>> I mean, it's a scary thought.
It's a dangerous-feeling situation.
(protesters shouting) >> NARRATOR: Not long after Ginni Thomas says she left... >> (clamoring) >> NARRATOR: ...Trump supporters breached the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.
(shouting and fighting) ♪ ♪ (gavel pounds) >> Oyez, oyez, oyez.
The Supreme Court of the United States is now sitting.
(gavel pounds) >> NARRATOR: Clarence Thomas's prominence on the Supreme Court continues to grow.
>> Just as Trump is leaving office, Thomas is coming into his own and commanding a true majority on the court.
>> And once again, the stakes are enormously high.
Clarence Thomas and his fellow conservatives are set to dominate on issues like affirmative action, voting rights, religion, free speech... >> The Thomas Court is not just extremely conservative, but extremely uninterested in concepts of judicial restraints and respect for precedent.
The Thomas Court is in a hurry to shift the law rapidly to the right.
>> The conservative majority, by a six-to-three vote, overturning Roe versus Wade, the right to choose abortion.
>> NARRATOR: The Thomas Court has overturned nearly 50 years of precedent on abortion.
>> He's been very disciplined, very persistent, and over the years, has really pulled the court over towards the right and has become, you know, extremely influential in American legal circles.
I don't think, I, I must say, I don't that think people would have thought that he would be able to pull that off, and he has.
>> It's a court with an energized conservative majority that's already demonstrated it is ready and willing to overturn decades of precedent and settled law.
>> NARRATOR: Now the court is facing a decision on an issue that has hovered around Clarence Thomas his entire life.
>> Challenging the use of race in college admissions, which could have an impact on affirmative action.
>> If you look at where the Supreme Court is right now, in many ways, it's implementing the political agenda and imposing the views of people like Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas.
Some people might call it payback.
Others might call it the fulfillment of his dreams.
>> NARRATOR: Clarence and Ginni Thomas had arrived at the pinnacle of American power, but they brought with them the divisions, grievances, and the bitter approach to politics that had shaped them.
>> We already know too little about Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas's entanglements.
>> NARRATOR: The controversy continuing to follow them.
>> Clarence Thomas has refused to recuse himself from Supreme Court cases related to Trump and the election.
>> It'll just roll off his back like water off of a duck's back.
"They're out to get me.
"They're going to use anything they can to get me.
"I've got a very clear view "of where I'm trying to go and what I'm trying to do and I'm not going to look left or right."
>> Ginni Thomas has publicly denied any conflict of interest between her activism and her husband's work.
>> NARRATOR: Their personal scandals... >> In Clarence Thomas's case, this is not the first ethics incident, even in recent years.
>> NARRATOR: ...now fueling doubts about the legitimacy of the court itself.
>> The Supreme Court trust hitting an all-time low... >> The court no longer has the confidence of the American people because of its own behavior.
>> And that is something that hurts the institution of the Supreme Court.
>> What is troubling is what happens to a democracy when the people don't trust the Supreme Court anymore.
>> Go to pbs.org/frontline to see more of our reporting on Justice Thomas.
>> Where you do run into the conflict is when you have a system set up under the guise of Affirmative Action that is called "“preferential treatment.
"” >> And see all our coverage of the Supreme Court.
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Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org.
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Frontline's " Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court" is available on Amazon Prime Video.