U.S. Supreme Court

National African-American museum unveils displays of Justices Thomas, Marshall

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Roughly a year after opening, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. has a new exhibit concerning Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s rise to the high court that may assuage earlier criticism when the Smithsonian’s new museum’s only mention of him featured a scandalous allegation, Law.com reports.

The exhibit sits alongside a new one for the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, who also had previously been noted in the museum only for efforts before he reached the high court – notably as the lawyer who argued Brown v. Board of Education.

The museum did not announce the new exhibits. The story was first reported by the Washington Times.

At the museum’s opening, Thomas was featured in an exhibit for Anita Hill, who accused him of sexual harassment during testimony at his confirmation hearing in 1991. Conservative groups and some members of Congress pushed back at what they considered political bias, the ABA Journal reported.

At the time, Smithsonian secretary David Skorton issued a statement saying that the museum couldn’t tell every story in its inaugural exhibitions, but that with newer ones in the future, “we expect that Justice Thomas’s story will be an excellent illustration of one of the themes that exemplify that [African-American] experience.”

The glass-enclosed displays for Marshall and Thomas have photos of them and provide written histories titled: “Thurgood Marshall: Civil Rights Lawyer to Supreme Court Justice,” and, “Clarence Thomas: From Seminary School to Supreme Court Bench.”

The Thomas exhibit includes photos of him at the College of Holy Cross and on the cover of Jet magazine.

Marshall’s exhibit includes his eyeglasses and a watch. He served on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991, and died in 1993 at 85.

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