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Clarence Thomas compares affirmative action to Jim Crow laws

Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, explains his legal reasoning for rejecting affirmative action in the latest court ruling. Clarence Thomas admits that he was a beneficiary of affirmative action.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ponders a question from The Honorable Thomas M. Hardiman during a program at the Duquesne University School of Law earlier these year in Pittsburgh.

(AP Photo/Tribune Review, Sidney Davis)

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas got into Yale Law School thanks in part to affirmative action, according to his autobiography.

But that doesn't make him a fan of the laws designed to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women.

Justice Thomas went along with Monday's Supreme Court decision that sent a case about affirmative action in college admissions back to a lower court.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported, "The opinion establishes a new, tougher test for assessing the constitutionality of affirmative action admissions programs. The challenged school must be able to prove there are no workable race-neutral alternatives to achieve a racially diverse student body."

But his in concurring statements, Thomas compared the arguments used by the University of Texas, Austin, to Jim Crow segregationists.

"While the University admits that racial discrimination in admissions is not ideal, it asserts that it is a temporary necessity because of the enduring race consciousness of our society. Yet again, the University echoes the hollow justifications advanced by the segregationists,” wrote Thomas in his dissent.

Citing the 14th Amendment (and previous legal precedents) Thomas argued that no state shall "deny to any person ... the equal protection of the laws. The Equal Protection Clause guarantees every person the right to be treated equally by the State, without regard to race. At the heart of this [guarantee] lies the principle that the government must treat citizens as individuals and not as members of racial, ethnic, or religious groups.

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