Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't speak much on the job, but during an interview last month at Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, Pa., he offered some candid insight into his thoughts about politics and President Barack Obama.
Asked if Obama's election as the first black president came as a surprise, Thomas said it didn't, claiming that he'd always believed a black person would become president one day. He went on to say, however, that Obama had only been elected because the president won over the elites and media, something Thomas argued most black people must do in order to advance.
"The thing that I always knew is that it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites and the media, because anybody they didn’t agree with, they would take apart," Thomas said in a clip that surfaced on Friday. "You pick your person. Any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart."
Thomas's comments have since been picked up by a number of outlets and are being considered by some as a subtle jab at Obama. Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California School of Law, told Mother Jones that the remarks were out of character for a sitting Supreme Court justice.
"Thomas seems more interested in becoming a Fox commentator than preserving the integrity of the Court," he said. "Justices should not take pot shots at the president. It's beneath the dignity of the court."
At the Duquesne Law School event, Thomas went on to explain that he had met Obama before, but had never spoken with the president at length. He also said that he wasn't really interested in politics.
"I just don't like politics," he said. "I'm just done ... I like history, I like things of substance; I don't understand politics."