School Cases Among 1st in Thomas Tenure

By Mark Walsh — October 23, 1991 1 min read

WASHINGTON--Clarence Thomas will hear his first cases as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court next month, when two major education-related cases are among those to be argued.

The Senate voted 52 to 48 on Oct. 15 to confirm Mr. Thomas as President Bush’s choice to replace retired Justice Thurgood Marshall. Judge Thomas, who has been serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was to be sworn in by early this week.

The High Court is next scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case on Nov. 4.

The Senate confirmation vote came after a one-week delay during which the Senate Judiciary Committee examined charges of sexual harassment made against Judge Thomas by a former aide of his at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Education Department.

In televised hearings, Mr. Thomas, a former chairman of the E.E.O.C. and a former head of the department’s office for civil rights, angrily and “categorically” denied the allegations made by Anita F. Hill, now a law professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Graduation Prayer

The first major education case that Judge Thomas will participate in is Lee v. Weisman (Case No. 90-1014), a graduation-prayer case that is scheduled for argument on Nov. 6.

On Nov. 13, the Court will hear arguments in a Mississippi higher-education desegregation case, U.S.v. Mabus (No. 90-1205).

Because he was not on the High Court during the Oct. 7 oral argument in Freeman v. Pitts, a major school-desegregation case, Judge Thomas will not be eligible to participate in deliberations or to vote on the matter. Judge Thomas missed the entire October argument session of the Court, which ended last week.

On Dec. 11, the Court is to hear arguments in Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (No. 90918), a Title IX sex-discrimination case that involves alleged sexual harassment of a female student by a male teacher.

A version of this article appeared in the October 23, 1991 edition of Education Week as School Cases Among 1st in Thomas Tenure