by James Oliphant
You'll have two chances to see Clarence Thomas in the next few days, likely two more than you've had in a very long time.
The notoriously private justice will be on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday and then on ABC throughout the day on Monday, culminating in an extended interview on "Nightline." Monday is the first day of the new Supreme Court term.
Thomas, not coincidentally, has a book coming out, which explains why he's now emerging from the shadows. In years past, he has largely confined himself to giving speeches before sympathetic groups and avoiding the mainstream media. And even if you've come to Washington to see Thomas on the bench, it's highly unlikely that you've ever heard him speak. He has become legendary for keeping silent during oral argument.
Those who have chronicled Thomas on the high court say he holds the press responsible for public pillorying he took in 1991 during his confirmation hearing. His memoir, which will be released Monday, finally provides his take on the tumultuous time, although reportedly it doesn't venture beyond '91 to address his tenure on the court. He has been viewed as the most conservative of all of the justices with which he has served.
Thomas' interview with CBS' Steve Kroft is previewed here, in which Thomas suggests his opponents who rallied against him in 1991 were motivated by a fear over abortion rights, not the sexual harassment allegations Thomas was facing. "Things are out of control," Thomas reportedly says in the interview. "That's not good for the country. It's not good for the court. What are we going to look like years from now if we can't get people confirmed because everybody gets to attack them. They get to draw and quarter them."
On Monday, Thomas will be interviewed by ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg, who argued in her recent book, "Supreme Conflict," that Thomas has played a more influential role in shaping the court than believed. (Greenburg is a former writer for the Chicago Tribune.)