“Some of us,” he said, “have experienced the whole alphabet.”
Justice Thomas discussed his goal as a young man of becoming a Roman Catholic priest, an aim he said he has never entirely abandoned. “That was the only thing I ever really wanted to be,” he said.
He dropped out of seminary, he said, because of a disagreement with the church’s relationship to the civil rights movement. “I got angry with the Catholic church over the issue of race,” he said. “I thought that the church should be the leader of the moral crusade against segregation and discrimination.”
Justice Thomas said he was “ideologically quite a bit to the left” in college and chose Yale Law School because he found Harvard Law School “way too conservative.”
“I know that sounds funny now,” he said.
He overlapped with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. at Yale, but the two men did not interact. Justice Alito later explained why.
“‘Clarence, you were scary,’” Justice Thomas, chuckling, recalled Justice Alito of saying.
In the interview, Justice Thomas made only a glancing reference to his stormy confirmation hearings, which featured accusations of sexual harassment. “I was in a world of trouble,” he said.
He also expressed frustration with what he said was intellectual stereotyping.
“People who will get very upset if someone said all blacks look alike are really comfortable saying all blacks ought to think alike,” Justice Thomas said.
“If you said that blacks should not be allowed to go a library, you’d be against that,” he said. “If you said that blacks couldn’t read certain books in the library, you would say that’s wrong.”
“But now we are so comfortable saying that blacks can’t hold some of the ideas in some of the books in the library,” Justice Thomas said. “That’s absurd.”