Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American lawyer who serves as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to succeed Thurgood Marshall, and has served since 1991. Thomas is the second African-American to serve on the Court, after Marshall. Since 2018, Thomas has been the senior associate justice, the longest-serving member of the Court, with a tenure of 30 years, 112 days as of February 12, 2022.
Thomas grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and was educated at the College of the Holy Cross and Yale Law School. He was appointed an assistant attorney general in Missouri in 1974, and later entered private practice there. In 1979, he became a legislative assistant to United States Senator John Danforth, and in 1981 he was appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Thomas Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush nominated Thomas to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He served in that role for 16 months before filling Marshall's seat on the Supreme Court. Thomas's confirmation hearings were bitter and intensely fought, centering on an accusation that he had sexually harassed attorney Anita Hill, a subordinate at the Department of Education and the EEOC. Hill claimed that Thomas made multiple sexual and romantic overtures to her despite her repeatedly telling him to stop. Thomas and his supporters asserted that Hill, as well as the witnesses on her behalf and supporters, had fabricated the allegations to prevent the appointment of a black conservative to the Court. The Senate confirmed Thomas by a vote of 52–48.Supreme Court experts describe Thomas's jurisprudence as textualist, stressing the original meaning of the United States Constitution and statutes. He is also an advocate of natural law. Many writers and political scientists view Thomas as the Court's most conservative member. He is also known for having gone over a decade without asking a question during oral arguments.