WASHINGTON — Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question from the bench in more than six years, and he seldom appears in public in Washington, a city he says is full of cynics, smart alecks and people who have agendas rather than convictions.
But he opened up last week in a public interview at the National Archives, talking about his race, his faith and relations among the justices after a term that ended with bitter divisions.
For the most part, Justice Thomas spoke somberly about the weight of history and the burdens of his job. But he allowed himself the occasional bit of rueful humor.
“People say horrible things,” he said, smiling. “They say that, well, I’m not black. So I’m just a little doubtful I should say I’m black.”
He said he preferred a time when there was less identification of “who’s what,” and he recalled his youth.
The occasion for the interview was the Constitution’s 225th anniversary and the publication of a new book called “America’s Unwritten Constitution.” Its author, Akhil Reed Amar, a law professor at Yale, questioned Justice Thomas for more than an hour.
“We’re all from the Ivy League,” he said. “That seems to be more relevant than what faith we are.”
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