Amid protests and votes against the measure by Georgia state legislators, the Georgia State Senate approved erecting a statue of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. On Feb. 7, the vote opened the way for the measure to await passage by the Republican-led statehouse. The magistrate was born and raised in Georgia.
The monument will be erected near the state capitol building in Atlanta if the proposal receives final approval. The measure passed the Republican-led senate 32 – 21 and is expected to be approved by the house. As WJCL reports, the vote came after heated debate and objections from several Black senators, one of whom called Thomas a “hypocrite and a traitor.”
Private donations would finance the monument. Most monuments dedicated to prominent people are usually built postmortem. Several legislators who objected stated that moving forward on a statue while the Georgia-born justice is still in office is premature. They indicated his retirement would be the soonest the monument should be considered at the earliest.
“That’s because you don’t know what else is going to come up in the lifetime of an individual,” said State Sen. Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat. “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.”
Thomas’ nomination to the court in 1991 was met with much criticism. Then-president George H.W. Bush put his name forward despite his one year of judicial experience. His judicial decisions have leaned conservative, without much consideration for racial equity.
Thomas is the second Black American to serve on the Supreme Court. The first was Thurgood Marshall, who served from 1967 until 1991. President Biden is expected to nominate the first Black woman to the court, upon the retirement of current Justice Stephen Breyer. The president will fulfill a campaign promise to fill the next Supreme Court vacancy with a Black woman.