Clarence Thomas on Welfare & Poverty

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Bush Sr. 1991)


Public Use Clause limits government's eminent domain power

Susette Kelo owned a house in New London, CT. In 1998, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer began construction on a new plant in New London. Pfizer convinced the city that it deserved the land in Kelo's neighborhood more than she and her neighbors did. The city utilized its power of eminent domain, which enables the local government to take private property and designate it for public use. Though Kelo was compensated, the government seized her property in the name of "local economic development."

The Supreme Court ruled in the favor of the City of New London, a dangerous landmark decision in US law.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas wrote: "The Public Use Clause is a meaningful limit on the government's eminent domain power. So- called "urban renewal" programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes."

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p. 78-79 , Sep 12, 2012

Opposed to welfare as the "ruination" of blacks

I was opposed to welfare because I had seen its destructive effects up close in Savannah. Most of the older people among whom I had grown up felt as I did, sharing Daddy's belief that it would be the "ruination" of blacks, undermining their desire to wor & provide for themselves. I added that my own sister was a victim of the system, which had created a sense of entitlement that had trapped her and her children. I went on to say that I opposed busing, preferring to give school vouchers to poor children.
Source: My Grandfather's Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas, p. 132-3 , Oct 1, 2007

Public housing entitlements are good programs

SENATOR KENNEDY: Well, what is your view about entitlements?

JUDGE THOMAS: I think that there are certain programs in our society that have helped. I visited my mother in Fellwood Homes, which is a Federal housing project in Savannah, Georgia. Fellwood Homes was a tenement, [but it was] a steppingstone before she could then move to something better. I thought that those programs were good.

I think we all though in a pluralistic society are concerned that sometimes when we do something that we hope is good that it may on some occasions have a negative impact, and I think that it is not illegitimate to say that some of these programs, or at least some of the ramifications, may not be what we expected and some of the consequences may be unintended consequences.

But I certainly believe that the efforts on behalf of providing public housing to my mother or the efforts of providing relief to individuals who could not receive jobs, etc., were very, very good efforts.

Source: 1991 SCOTUS Senate Confirmation Hearings , Sep 10, 1991

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Welfare & Poverty.
  • Click here for a profile of Clarence Thomas.
  • Wiki Profile of Clarence Thomas.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Clarence Thomas.
  • Click here for AmericansElect responses by Clarence Thomas.
  • Click here for all excerpts for Clarence Thomas.
Other Justices on Welfare & Poverty: Clarence Thomas on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

Party Platforms:
Democratic Platform
Green Platform
Libertarian Platform
Natural Law Platform
Reform Platform
Republican Platform
Tea Platform
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022