“We think he’s a hypocrite and a traitor,” says Democratic state Sen. Nikki Merritt. “He subverts the struggles of Black Americans.”
Despite objections from several of Georgia’s Black state senators, the state will move forward with erecting a monument to honor Clarence Thomas, the nation’s second Black Supreme Court justice.
According to WJCL, the monument will be erected near the state capitol in Atlanta if it receives final passage. After being approved by the Republican-controlled state senate 32 to 21, it now proceeds to the Republican-controlled House, where it is likely to pass.
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation in October in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The monument will be privately funded.
Some opponents noted that such statues are usually erected after the death of the person being honored. State Sen. Nan Orrock, a Democrat from Atlanta, said you never know “what else is going to come up in the lifetime of an individual.”
“You put a statue up to him, you don’t want to be pulling it down later if things go badly, if the person goes astray,” Orrock added.
The other living person who is honored with a statue at the Capitol is former President Jimmy Carter. Republican state Sen. Ben Watson used Carter as an example to counter Orrock’s argument.
“I didn’t agree with everything that President Carter did. He is a great Georgian and a president we should be proud of,” Watson said. “I would hope that you would feel the same way about Justice Thomas. He is a wonderful person.”
Thomas, one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices, has opposed affirmative action and key aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He has also called on the court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“It’s not that we have a problem that he is a conservative or a Republican,” Democratic state Sen. Nikki Merritt, who is Black, said. “We think he’s a hypocrite and a traitor.”
“It seems like white America keeps wanting to promote Justice Thomas,” added Merritt, “but we see more evidence where, time and time again, he subverts the struggles of Black Americans.”
Merritt also pointed to the accusations of sexual harassment levied at Thomas by Anita Hill, a former colleague, during his confirmation hearing in 1991.
“We’re not here talking about Justice Thomas as the man,” state Sen. Emanuel Jones, a Black Democrat said. “We all have a great deal of respect of his many accomplishments. It’s his policies. It’s his rulings. It’s his decisions that we find extremely offensive.”
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