GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas urged the National Museum of African American History and Culture to include Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is conspicuously absent from their sprawling collection.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in October that Thomas was not featured in the new museum, though Anita Hill, the woman who accused him of sexual harassment during his 1991 confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court, is giving prominent billing.
Cruz hailed Thomas as a brilliant jurist who reached the height and summit of the legal profession by sheer force of will. He is the second African American appointed to the Supreme Court, and is the nation’s longest serving black justice.
“Ever his grandfather’s son, Justice Thomas also helped bury ‘Old Man Can’t’ — in spectacular fashion,” Cruz wrote. “Justice Thomas’s dramatic journey from enduring entrenched racial discrimination to serving on the highest court in a country of 320 million is one that should be shouted from the rooftops to all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
Thomas was born in the coastal lowlands of the “Jim Crow” South to an impoverished community of Gullah-speakers. He credits his grandfather and the St. Benedict Moor Grammar School — a Catholic school in Savannah, Georgia run by the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception — as his formative influences. He went on to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. and later, Yale Law School.
“I fully understand that a museum cannot include every bit of relevant information, nor can it tell every tale,” he added. “Many great people and their stories had to be omitted from the museum, I am certain. But with all due respect, Justice Thomas’s story is not just any other story. Rather, it is a story uniquely compelling in the annals of American history.”
Cruz also cosponsored a resolution in the Senate calling on the Smithsonian to include Thomas in the new museum. The resolution was supported by six Republican senators. A corresponding resolution was also introduced in the House of Representatives. (RELATED: Congress Demands Black History Smithsonian Include Clarence Thomas)
Cruz sits on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and clerked on the Supreme Court for Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 1996. He is the first Hispanic to clerk for the chief justice of the United States.
For its part, the Smithsonian denied it applied an ideological litmus test is assembling its collections, and suggested Thomas would be included in a future exhibit.
“There are many compelling personal stories about African Americans who have become successful in various fields, and obviously, Associate Justice Thomas is one of them,” a spokesman said in October. “However, we cannot tell every story in our inaugural exhibitions.”
“We will continue to collect and interpret the breadth of the African American experience,” the spokesman added.
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