Stone Washington
Justice Clarence Thomas, Generation Z, and Me
By Stone Washington
April 4, 2016

"My grandfather was a man, when he talked about freedom, his attitude was really interesting. His view was that you had obligations or you had responsibilities, and when you fulfilled those obligations or responsibilities, that then gave you the liberty to do other things"

"Perhaps some are confused because they have stereotypes of how blacks should be and I respectfully decline, as I did in my youth, to sacrifice who I am for who they think I should be."

~ Justice Clarence Thomas

Prologue: What my father taught me about Justice Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas' work as a sitting Associate Justice in the Supreme Court (1991 – today), has had a profoundly positive effect on my overall intellectual development. As a budding young scholar with a strong interest in legal studies, Justice Thomas' brilliant legal ethics and solid conservative principles have inspired me to uphold the rule of law stemming from the Constitutional values that the Founding Fathers safeguarded deriving from a Judicial perspective adhering to Natural Law principles. What is Natural Law? Thomas Jefferson in his iconic Declaration of Independence (1776) defined it as "...the law of Nature and of Nature's God." My father, Professor Ellis Washington, for over 25 years has used a definition of Natural Law by legal writer David Adams found in his essential book of legal cases and scholarly writings titled, Philosophical Problems in the Law, p. 12: "Natural Law" consists of "principles and standards not simply made up by humans but rather part of an objective moral order, present in the universe and accessible to human reason."

I was first introduced to Justice Thomas through my father, Professor Ellis Washington, who has considered Justice Thomas to be his intellectual mentor for almost 30 years. Over the years my father has systematically codified and disseminated the Natural Law jurisprudence of Justice Thomas and adopted it as his own philosophical worldview throughout all of his academic writings. In gratitude since 1991 when Thomas joined SCOTUS, my father has sent Justice Thomas and the other eight members of the Supreme Court virtually all of his published scholarly writings, law review articles, and books (the latter of which I have helped edit, including his latest collection of essays all dedicated to Justice Clarence Thomas – The Progressive Revolution, Vols. I, II (2013), Vols. III and IV (2015). A few of the dozens of essays my father has written about the Natural Law jurisprudence of Justice Thomas include:
It is the primary intent of this essay to demonstrate the profound generosity and respect for Thomas' revolutionary Conservative stance in the Court as a fitting intellectual and jurisprudential bequest not only to America, but specifically to the younger generations – Millennials and Generation Z, to preserve the sacred institutions of our Founding Fathers and Constitutional Framers. Furthermore, I believe that Justice Thomas' steadfast defense of the Constitution, Natural Law, and traditional Judeo-Christian values and institutions has had a powerful impact on many individuals within my Generation Z (e.g., those born in the years of 1995-2010 – I was born in 1997). Thus this essay endeavors to reveal and analyze how Justice Thomas' powerful life's story, his storied biography – from his impoverished upbringing in Savannah Georgia, to his ascendancy into the highest court in the land – provides a powerful representation of the path toward success in life which can be seen as a guideline for my Generation Z and all Americans can rely upon to guard the present and future of this unique American REPUBLIC.

Early Life

Justice Thomas was born on June 23rd 1948 to M.C. Thomas, a farm worker, and Leola Williams, a domestic worker, in the small Black community of Pin Point Georgia. He was one of three children, with his older sister Emma Mae, and younger brother Myers Lee. Early in his life, Thomas' parents divorced, leaving him and his siblings to be raised in an impoverished home by his mother after his father moved away to north Philadelphia. At the age of seven Thomas and his six year old brother were sent away to live with his mother's father, Myers Anderson, and her stepmother in Savannah Georgia. Thomas was raised by his grandfather, whom he called "Daddy," who despite not having formal education, built a thriving fuel oil business. Anderson was a self-reliant man with a strict work ethic who when Thomas was 10, started taking the family to help at a local farm every day from sunrise to sunset. Anderson's motto was, "never let the sun catch you in bed." He also impressed upon his grandsons the importance of a good education.

Clarence Thomas in a 1959 High school year book photo

Thomas was the only black person at his high school in Savannah, where he was an honor student. Thomas was raised a Roman Catholic and at a time had interests toward entering the priesthood. He attended the Roman Catholic Conception Seminary College in Missouri, being the first in his family to pursue a college education. Thomas would leave the seminary in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., on the belief that the school did little to battle against racism. Thomas would later attend the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester Massachusetts where he helped found the Black Student Union.

At Holy Cross Thomas chose to major in English Literature based on his desire "to conquer the language," as he sought to grammatically master English, having been raised speaking Gullah as a child. He graduated from the Holy Cross in 1971 with an A.B cum laude honors in English Literature. Thomas had the honor of graduating Yale Law School with a J.D (Juris Doctor) in 1974. Despite such a prestigious accomplishment, Thomas was not taken seriously by various law firms who falsely believed that he had attained entrance into Yale based on affirmative action policies. Thomas quoted on his experience after attending Yale, but because of institutional racism made his Yale degree tantamount to worthless, "I peeled a fifteen-cent sticker off a package of cigars and stuck it on the frame of my law degree to remind myself of the mistake I'd made by going to Yale," Thomas wrote. "I never did change my mind about its value."

Early Career

From 1974 to 1977, Thomas was an Assistant Attorney General of Missouri under State Attorney General John Danforth, who met Thomas at Yale Law School. Similar to his educational upbringing, Thomas was the only black member in Danforth's staff. In 1976, Thomas left to become an attorney with the Monsanto Chemical Company in St. Louis, Missouri. He would later move to Washington, D.C. and returned to work for Danforth from 1979 to 1981 as a Legislative Assistant handling energy issues for the Senate Commerce Committee. Danforth would later become an instrumental figure in endorsing Thomas for nomination into the Supreme Court.

In 1981, Thomas began work under the Ronald Reagan administration. From 1981 to 1982, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. From 1982 to 1990, he was Chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Similar to his grandfather, Thomas based his role as Chairman using the conservative principles of one of his most enduring intellectual mentors – the great famous Black activist Booker T. Washington and his doctrine of self-reliance. (For those interested in learning more about this forgotten hero of Black Natural Rights read my essay, 1915-2015 – 100th Anniversary of Booker T. Washington).

In 1984, Thomas asserted that black leaders were "watching the destruction of our race," as they repeatedly criticized President Reagan and applying his economic policies to improve their position in society. Instead of working with the Reagan Administration to tackle the major issues facing the Black community such as, fixing rising unemployment rates, alleviating teen pregnancy, and reducing illiteracy among Blacks in education. Black agitators, Black community organizers and precursors to Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and later Barack Obama, were people that my intellectual mentor at George Mason University and legendary writer and Economics Professor Walter Williams calls "Poverty Pimps".

Ascendancy to the U.S. Supreme Court

On October 30, 1989, Thomas was had the honor of being nominated by President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which had been vacated by the famous Judge Robert Bork, a powerful advocate of Judicial Originalism (though he seemed to have scorned the term "Natural Law"). Thomas was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 6, 1990, and received his commission the same day. After Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement, on July 1, 1991 President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace him on the Supreme Court. Before Thomas, Marshall had been the only Black justice on the High Court.

However, soon partisan Democrats like Senator Joe Biden, Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Ted Kennedy because to contrive false and outrageous controversies regarding the Thomas' nomination into the Court. It was all partisan politics designed to hide their real motives – Democrat racism and hatred of an independent and conservative minded Black person who made it without their "Socialism Slavery chains" as my father for years have defined these Machiavellian tactics by the Left. Thomas was forced to restrain many of his judicial beliefs during the Senate hearing confirming his nomination, learning from his predecessor Judge Robert Bork, who had unflinchingly expounded upon his Originalist judicial philosophy during his 2007 Senate Judicial hearings, and was ultimately denied entrance into the Court largely based on Progressive lies and demagoguery particularly by a 1987 anti-Bork speech delivered by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) given on the Senate Floor.

In his iconic and outstanding 2007 memoir, My Grandfather's Son, Justice Thomas wrote about those incendiary times in this matter,
    "Judge Bork had made the mistake of patiently trying to explain the nuances of constitutional law to his questioners, despite the fact that most of them didn't know or care what he was talking about. The paradox was that my comparative inexperience might make it easier for me to stay out of that swamp. I wasn't a theorist of constitutional law, meaning that I couldn't have emulated Judge Bork even if I'd wanted to do so. Instead I planned to say as little as possible about such matters. To do more would be to run the risk of giving my enemies more ammunition to fire at me-which was, of course the whole point of their questioning."

Clarence Thomas swearing the oath into the Supreme Court

On the Court Thomas is often viewed as the most Conservative member, even more faithful to the original Natural Law jurisprudence than his recently deceased ally Justice Scalia. (I recall an excellent 2011 article on Justice Thomas by Northwestern University Law School Professor Steven Calabresi citing his legendary judicial legacy). Thomas is more often than not a victim of harsh criticism from various individuals attacking him on for multiple reasons such as on the basis of his skin color, his standing as a Black conservative, being a polar opposite of his liberal predecessor Thurgood Marshall, the false sex scandal accusations surrounding his career (most notably with Anita Hill), and the Progressive albatross that Thomas is a hypocrite; that Thomas actually benefited from the same affirmative action policies that he has opposed to as a judge. I strongly disagree with these criticisms of Justice Thomas.

Thomas' legal views are grounded in the tenets of Originalism, Strict Constructionism, and most importantly Natural Law. All of these legal philosophies maintain an uncompromising devotion and loyalty for the written, blackletter text of the Constitution (e.g., Textualism), as it adheres to meaning exactly what the Founding Fathers wrote. Thomas also supports the practices of natural law which he explains in his famous memoir My Grandfather's Son as, "all law is based on some sense of moral principles inherent in the nature of human beings." Thomas declines to engage in what he views as judicial lawmaking (inspired by the practice of Judicial Review, born from the infamous majority opinion by Chief Justice John Marshall case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), – which created out of nothing the judicial activist idea that Judges are the final arbiters on all constitutional questions. He instead views the constitutional obligation of the Court as interpreters of law, rather than the making of law.

Justice Thomas vs. Jeffery Toobin

In the Acknowledgements section of my father's collection of essays dedicated to Justice Thomas, The Progressive Revolution, Vols. III and IV, Professor Ellis Washington cited a surprising example of truth and justice by the Progressive press, particularly The New Yorker and CNN's legal analyst and long-standing Thomas critic, Jeffrey Toobin.

Toobin wrote admiringly of Justice Thomas in an August 2011 essay in the New Yorker which was very unexpected and ironic; coming from this severe critic of Justice Thomas and his Natural Law, conservative jurisprudence, that my father quoted this revealing passage about Thomas in the Acknowledgements section of the above cited opus:
    ... [T]his year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.
It's not that my father, nor I, nor any conservative intellectual in America deifies Justice Clarence Thomas as being above reproach, but we do question Jeffrey Toobin and his largely White Progressive colleague's motives. Like as the ancients would query evil intent with the phrase – Qui bono? (who benefits?) In other words, why does the largely White Progressive media all have this psychotic, venal hatred against the paucity of Black conservative intellectuals America has in high places? Justice Thomas perhaps answers this question when writing in his memoir, My Grandfather's Son – "Perhaps some are confused because they have stereotypes of how blacks should be and I respectfully decline, as I did in my youth, to sacrifice who I am for who they think I should be."

Justice Thomas has been a faithful conservative ally during his almost 25 years with SCOTUS. Tragically, his ideological ally, Justice Antonin Scalia has recently passed in February 2016. Can't we have just one conservative jurists we can admire, read about, and learn from for the Millennial Generation and my Generation Z? An increasing number of college students like myself for example are very compelled and animated by the political revolution of Donald J. Trump. What else in this dystopian world can we celebrate if not the original intent of the Natural Law jurisprudence and political philosophy of the constitutional Framers? – 8 Years of American appeasement by President Barack Obama? Republican cowardice and duplicity against We the People by the GOP majority in Congress? Or rampant judicial activism that legitimized Obamacare (twice), abortion for 43 years since Roe v. Wade, and a litany of other tyrannies too numerous to name here that to one degree or another has left America and the world bleeding and burning and ISIS rising?

Epilogue: Justice Thomas' Natural Law and Generation Z

Speaking of my Generation Z, as a youthful Black teenager and proud patron of American Natural Law jurisprudence, I find that the life's work and revolutionary judicial perspective of Justice Clarence Thomas, being America's first Black conservative Supreme Court Justice, has profoundly impacted not only my generation, but American society in general, with a specific focus on the shedding light upon the political and social plight of Blacks in society. Justice Thomas' life's story on rising from impoverishment and humble upbringings, to attaining a position within the highest court in the country represents the profound potential of the American Dream.

Even in the face of overwhelming odds involving racial discrimination, employers overlooking his educational background, political correct attacks from politicians on both sides of the isle, false sexual allegations (which he attributed to being the "high-tech lynching" for what his prosecutors deemed him as an "uppity Black"), and his revolutionary Judicial opinions behind the dangerous combination of being Black and Conservative, Justice Thomas arose to a position on the Supreme Court being a national inspiration for Christians, Blacks, and conservative Americans alike battling against the hardships of the liberally dominated secular academy, racially discriminatory job market, and politically revisionary (Progressive) government. Justice Thomas spoke it best in his memoir revealing his struggles in life –
    "Ever since leaving home, I'd played by the rules-but where had it gotten me? Whites could change those rules whenever they pleased. It had always been that way, and always would be. I'd graduated from one of America's top law schools-but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value. I'd been nominated to sit on the Supreme Court-but my refusal to swallow the liberal pieties that had done so much damage to blacks in America meant that I had to be destroyed. Perhaps I had known that all along."
Justice Thomas' powerful accomplishments in the face of adversity are seen a guide to inspire young people in my generation to pursue and attain their dreams. Thomas stands strong behind his Natural Law jurisprudence and Originalism ideology and promotes a powerful ethic of self-reliance and Reagan optimism that inspires one to labor assiduously to obtain success in life, even if the odds are stacked against you and there are many hostile forces out to deny your success. "Never, never, never give up," Justice Thomas told a group of young people at the Virginia Military Academy. Like his grandfather, Justice Thomas ultimately believes that one must aim for the best and never settle for anything less in life. I believe that this is the inspiration that Justice Thomas has upon Generation Z, the Natural Law ideas my father taught me and a child, and why in my opinion he is the most influential Supreme Court Justice in American History.

Lex iniusta non est lex (Latin: An unjust law is no law at all). ~ Saint Augustine (attributed St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther King)

© Stone Washington


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at


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