WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas famously opposes affirmative action, and clearly feels slandered by the suggestion he ever benefited from such a thing.
So, if we no longer need such programs, how's that working out in Thomas's own office?
Not well, as it turns out: "Mine happen to be all white males," Thomas said of his current crop of clerks. "I don't have quotas."
When Rep. Jose Serrano, a Democrat from New York, asked about diversity today at a Congressional hearing on the Supreme Court's budget, it was Justice Anthony Kennedy who answered first: "We've made strides," he said, but there is just tremendous competition for qualified minority law students. "The profession as a whole is very conscious of it, very conscious."
"Conscious," Serrano persisted, "but, have we made progress?"
Of the most recent class of 57 clerks, Kennedy answered, only 7 were minority. And the number of women in the group has fallen dramatically, from more than a third to only 17 percent this year.
In a rare interview last week, Thomas told a writer for Business Week that the notion he was recruited to attend the College of Holy Cross because he is black was "a lie. I don't mean a mistake. It's a lie."
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Holy Cross did begin recruiting young black men. But that had nothing to do with his entrance the next year, Thomas said: "A nun suggested Holy Cross. That's how I wound up there. Your industry has suggested that we were all recruited."
"That was the creation of the politicians, the people with a lot of mouth and nothing to say, and your industry. Everything becomes affirmative action."