CV NEWS FEED // The Georgia Senate voted 32-21 Monday to allow the erection of a monument to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but a number of Democrats harshly criticized the plan due to the jurist’s historical opposition to their policy agendas.
“The monument would be financed by private donations and would be erected somewhere at the state Capitol if the measure were to receive final passage,” the Associated Press reported. The plan “now goes to the state House for consideration.”
During the debates preceding Monday’s vote, Atlanta Democrat Sen. Nan Orrock spoke of tearing down the monument if Thomas were hypothetically to become a shameful figure, AP reported. “You put a statue up to him, you don’t want to be pulling it down later if things go badly, if the person goes astray.”
Democratic state Sen. Nikki Merritt, went much further, ferociously attacking Thomas as a “traitor” to Black Americans, and even citing the thoroughly debunked sexual harrassment charge that Democrats deployed to stop his nomination. At the time, Thomas characterized the accusations as a kind of “lynching.”
“It’s not that we have a problem that he is a conservative or a Republican,” said Merritt of her opposition to the monument. “We think he’s a hypocrite and a traitor.”
Democratic Sen. Emanuel Jones, on the other hand, seemed to admit that Thomas is personally irreproachable. Despite that, however, Jones explicitly opposed the monument on the grounds of partisan opposition to Thomas’s judgments and opinions on the Court. “We’re not here talking about Justice Thomas as the man,” Jones said. “We all have a great deal of respect of his many accomplishments. It’s his policies. It’s his rulings. It’s his decisions that we find extremely offensive.”
Republican proponents of the monument expressed shock at the tone of their Democratic colleagues during the debate.
While Democrats tried to argue that it would be inappropriate to erect a monument to Thomas while he is still alive, State Sen. Ben Watson, a Republican from Savannah, pointed out that the Georgia Capitol has already erected a monument to Democratic President Jimmy Carter, another Georgian.
“I didn’t agree with everything that President Carter did. He is a great Georgian and a president we should be proud of. I would hope that you would feel the same way about Justice Thomas. He is a wonderful person,” said Watson.
This is not the first time that Georgia Democrats have used strong language to oppose the idea of honoring Thomas, a Georgia native, with a monument. Last year, state Rep. Donna McLeod, a Democrat, wrote a column in which she stated: “I’d rather them keep a Confederate monument than a statue of Clarence Thomas. That’s how much I don’t like the idea.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, a Roman Catholic, once said that he attends daily Mass on his “way to work” in order to gain the disposition to discharge his duties on the Supreme Court “in the right way, for the right reasons.”