Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas excoriated his colleague on the bench, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, by citing her 18 times in his opinion on a ruling that bans universities from weighing an applicant’s race during the admissions process.
The court found that affirmative action practices at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The landmark ruling could level the playing field for college applicants and return admissions back to a meritocracy.
In the UNC case, specifically, the court voted 6-3 to strike down the admissions practice with the three liberal justices dissenting.
Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case because of her previous seat on the school’s board of overseers.
In that case, the court voted 6-2, ABC News reported.
But amid the court’s decision to end the practice of considering race for college students, the high court’s two black judges took shots at one another.
Politico reported that in his opinion on striking affirmative action from the college admissions process, Thomas mentioned Jackson 18 times in seven pages.
In response to Jackson’s dissenting argument, Thomas wrote, “As she sees things, we are all inexorably trapped in a fundamentally racist society, with the original sin of slavery and the historical subjugation of black Americans still determining our lives today.”
Thomas added: “The panacea, she counsels, is to unquestioningly accede to the view of elite experts and reallocate society’s riches by racial means as necessary to ‘level the playing field,’ all as judged by racial metrics. I strongly disagree.”
The clearly annoyed Thomas did not stop there.
“Justice Jackson uses her broad observations about statistical relationships between race and select measures of health, wealth, and well-being to label all blacks as victims. Her desire to do so is unfathomable to me,” he wrote. “I cannot deny the great accomplishments of black Americans, including those who succeeded despite long odds.”
He further accused Jackson of holding a “race-infused” view of the world that he said is short-sighted.
“Justice Jackson’s race-infused world view falls flat at each step. Individuals are the sum of their unique experiences, challenges, and accomplishments,” Thomas wrote.
“What matters is not the barriers they face, but how they choose to confront them,” Thomas said, in perhaps his most pointed retort to Jackson. “And their race is not to blame for everything — good or bad — that happens in their lives. A contrary, myopic world view based on individuals’ skin color to the total exclusion of their personal choices is nothing short of racial determinism.”
Thomas also accused his colleague of ignoring the plights of Asian and white students who are often victims to a race-based admissions process.
In response, Jackson also took a shot at Thomas.
She wrote, “The takeaway is that those who demand that no one think about race (a classic pink-elephant paradox) refuse to see, much less solve for, the elephant in the room — the race-linked disparities that continue to impede achievement of our great Nation’s full potential.”
Thomas has served on the court since 1991. He faced a contentious confirmation process after then-senator Biden attempted to derail his nomination by former President George H.W. Bush.