Washington Post getting blasted for racially charged remark about Clarence Thomas

The Washington Post is drawing criticism after a writer used a racially charged remark to refer to the judicial philosophy of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In a Wednesday story by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Marianna Sotomayor, Thomas was referred to as a “Black justice whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives,” according to Fox News.

The story involved the role House Minority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D, S.C.) plays in President Joe Biden’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Biden has promised to nominate a black woman to the high court to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer; Clyburn is the highest-ranking black member of congressional Democratic leadership.

He also played a major role in ensuring Biden was even in a position to make the pick in the first place, as the Post’s writers noted.

“Biden, 79, and Clyburn, 81, have been friends for decades, and the South Carolina lawmaker’s endorsement helped the former vice president overcome a string of damaging early-state losses to win the state’s Democratic primary in 2020, saving his political career and putting him on course to win the White House,” the Post reported.

The meat of the story involved Clyburn’s open support for U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs, something that “has quietly irked colleagues with differing opinions.”

However, what drew the most attention was one sentence fragment in the original version of the piece.

The Post quoted Rep. Bennie Thompson (D, Miss.), who said going against Clyburn’s advice could be an unwise thing to do.

“Nobody that I’m aware of feels that opposing Clyburn’s nomination would be the wise thing to do,” Thompson said. “If you know that a person has been vetted by Jim Clyburn, you know that person won’t go to the court and end up being a Clarence Thomas.”

The original version of the story then referred to Thomas as a “Black Justice whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives.”

Apparently realizing this didn’t go over quite as intended, the Post changed the language of the piece, saying that Thompson was “referring to the Black conservative justice.”

In a “clarification” (not a correction, mind you) the Post noted that an earlier version the story “imprecisely referred to Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinions as often reflecting the thinking of White conservatives, rather than conservatives broadly.

“That reference has been removed.”

Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley called it “a disgraceful but revealing reference.”

It’s worth noting the remark fit neatly with the rest of the story, which took the Democrats’ overtly racial politicking around Breyer’s Supreme Court seat as bedrock facts.

At one point, Clyburn is quoted as saying to Biden during his presidential campaign “that it would energize [the black] community to this day if you were to place a Black woman on the Supreme Court.”

If that’s true, it hasn’t shown in Biden’s poll numbers. Biden’s average approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics, had him at 14.4 percent unfavorable when Breyer’s retirement broke on Jan. 26. As of Feb. 18, this had improved only slightly to 12.4 percent unfavorable.