The latest round of accusations lobbed against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas brings to mind an oft-told story of President Lyndon Johnson’s lament.
“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River,” the thirty-sixth chief executive said, “the headline that afternoon would read: ‘President Can’t Swim.’”
I was reminded of this quip this morning in reading a report that Harlan Crow, a friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, paid school tuition for the senior justice’s grandnephew, Mark Martin.
What’s the connection?
Media appears completely disinterested in the noble and honorable backstory concerning Mark Martin and Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
Mark’s father is Justice Thomas’ nephew, and he was sent to jail when his son was young. Burdened by the prospect of a broken home and Mark innocently caught in the middle, Clarence and Ginni Thomas stepped in to take custody of the youngster.
Sadly, Justice Thomas knew what it was like to grow up in a home without a father – and he was determined to do what he could to spare his grandnephew of a similar fate.
Thanksgiving of 1997 saw Clarence and Ginni Thomas drive down to Georgia to pick up Martin. He was just 6 years old. Two months later they were named the boy’s legal guardians.
You won’t find any profile in The New York Times from that era highlighting the Thomas’ decision or newest family member. Few would ever know that Justice Thomas would often leave his Supreme Court office early to sit in the carpool line at Mark’s school to pick him up.
The Thomas family did what countless other families who find themselves in a challenging predicament are doing even today. We all know grandparents who are raising their grandchildren or extended family members. Hundreds of thousands of foster families are sacrificing in some form or fashion in order to help vulnerable children.
But today’s headlines aren’t focusing on the Thomas family’s love and care for their grandnephew, but instead on the fact that a generous and wealthy friend decided to step in and support the effort.
Legal experts and officials will determine if and whether such help should have been disclosed, but the onslaught of criticism against the justice is motivated by a single point of obsession:
Justice Thomas is being targeted because he ruled to reverse Roe. He’s being harassed in an all-out, tireless, and coordinated campaign to wear him down and try and force him off the Supreme Court.
This latest charge is especially ironic. Abortion radicals often accuse pro-lifers of being obsessed with the baby to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. They suggest abortion is necessary because poor children would somehow be better off dead than raised in difficult circumstances.
In this instance, Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni, modeled the very ethic and behavior pro-lifers champion and celebrate. They welcomed this boy into their home as their own. He was with them between the ages of 6 and 19.
Harlan Crown, the friend who apparently helped with some of the child’s school tuition, is now under fire for being generous. In a statement released today, his office said, “Harlan Crow has long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth.”
The statement added:
“It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political.”
Writing to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul urged believers, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13).
May the same wisdom and guidance encourage, strengthen and sustain Justice Clarence Thomas.