U.S. Supreme Court

Thomas: Anti-poverty programs have failed and we should 'fess up' to problems


At a law school appearance on Tuesday, Justice Clarence Thomas said he is saddened by poverty and social issues in black communities but he doesn’t know the solution.

Speaking at Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, Thomas spoke of a decline over the years, the Associated Press reports. Today “virtually every crime is drug related,” he said, and anti-poverty programs have not solved the problems.

“We should at least fess up and say something is wrong,” Thomas said. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Trib Live and WESA also covered the speech.

Thomas recalled the lesson he learned in Catholic schools as a youth. “We were told, under all circumstances, we were inherently equal, and that was in the face of segregation and theories that said or suggested that we were inferior,” Thomas said. “But they held us to that standard.”

Thomas’ politics have changed over the years. He said he voted for Democratic presidential candidates Hubert Humphrey in 1969 and George McGovern in 1972, and he registered as a Republican to vote for Ronald Reagan. But Thomas said he doesn’t like politics and he doesn’t like the term “black conservative.” Thomas told the crowd he’s actually more of a libertarian.

“I was trying to figure things out, but people were telling me that, ‘You’re black. We already have the views you’re supposed to have. You’re not supposed to read Ayn Rand. You’re not supposed to think about things. That’s bizarre,’ ” Thomas said, according to the WESA account. “Well, why do we go to school? Just give us our list of what we’re supposed to think. It saves a lot of time.”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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