**** Out of **** (Four Out of Four Stars)
Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, Clarence Thomas is currently the longest serving justice on the U.S. Supreme Court and, in many ways, is the most eclectic and introspective person to ever sit on the highest court in the land.
Born into poverty in Pin Point, Georgia in 1948, Thomas spent the bulk of his youth living with his maternal grandparents in Savannah where he was reared on Scripture and the importance of self-discipline and personal accountability.
While he was only a sophomore in high school, Thomas chose to enter seminary school with the intent of becoming a Catholic priest, yet eventually lost the calling.
This decision didn’t sit well with his grandfather (Myers Anderson) who — without a second thought and lots of tough love — told Thomas he was now on his own and literally jettisoned him from the nest.
Throughout "Created Equal" it's clear that Anderson was the most influential person in Thomas’ life and a bust of him has rested atop his office bookshelf during his entire tenure at the Supreme Court.
"Created Equal" is one of the most atypical political/biographical documentaries in recent memory. While it is not the first film made about a sitting Supreme Court justice (that would the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie “RBG” from 2018), it's the first to feature a justice providing the lion’s share of the commentary in the first person.
This is an especially unique occurrence given the history of Thomas’ tendency to remain tight-lipped about anything and everything outside of the court’s hallowed walls.
Another non-first, "Created Equal" is not the first documentary directed by a Trump administration employee (that would be "The Plot Against the President" by Amanda Milius), but it is the only to film to date made by the head of a department: Michael Pack, who served as the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media from June 2020 until January 2021, when he was asked to resign by President Biden.
"Created Equal" is Pack’s 11th documentary made since 1987.
Packs’ most impressive accomplishment here is in his quasi-subverting of the traditional three-act narrative blueprint (yes, even most documentaries have three acts) and instead opts for two distinctly different, slightly overlapping halves.
After abandoning his clerical pursuits, Thomas began attending Holy Cross in 1968.
In tandem with his association with other left-leaning black classmates and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Thomas’ ideology began to swing to the left. He maintained this position while attending Yale Law School in the 1970s and during his apprenticeship under republican Missouri Attorney General Jack Danforth, the only person who offered Thomas a job upon graduation.
Even a with Yale law degree, Thomas couldn’t find work and rightfully attributes his race as a barrier in getting other employment offers. Make of that what you will.
Not long after attending the 1980 "Fairmont Conference" in San Francisco featuring speaker Thomas Sowell did Thomas’ opinions begin to change.
An intellectual lacking in the entire pretense usually associated with that label, Sowell was one of the first modern day Black conservatives who was bold and brave enough to go against the expected Blacks-are-Democrats grain.
A negative op-ed about Thomas by (then Washington Post) writer Juan Williams and a thoroughly misguided article about racism written by Carter administration member Hodding Carter III (in a 1986 Playboy article) cemented Thomas’ return to the conservative ideology of his youth.
Despite being quite familiar to anyone over the age of 40, the content of the final 30 minutes of the film is made anew by Pack’s presentation and it shows how little has changed regarding the perception of Black conservatives in America since 1991.
Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings – led by Democratic mainstays such as Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Paul Simon of Illionois are comical in hindsight, yet nothing they say comes close to the downright laughable hypocrisy of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and then-U.S. Senate Judiciary chair Joe Biden (of Delaware).
After five days of leading and grueling questioning — mostly on abortion issues — Thomas emerged scathed but victorious, but as is often the case with Democratic Party "gamesmanship," further 11th hour testimony was "unearthed" and delivered by former Thomas underling Anita Hill.
While admittedly compelling in its own twisted way, Hill’s attempt to discredit Thomas with accusations of sexual harassment fell flat with the American public.
A poll conducted after her testimony favored Thomas over 2 to 1 in believability and shortly thereafter, he was sworn in as a justice on the high court.
What is most telling about Thomas’ fortitude and self-worth came after Hill’s testimony when he told his sanctimonious questioners that clearing his name meant more to him than being seated on the Supreme Court. Thomas reflects on his senate vetting "victory" in the film by stating "whoop-de-damn-doo." He vanquished his detractors with truth, dignity and — something most of them lacked — honor.
Thomas succeeded Thurgood Marshall, the first Black SCOTUS Justice , a man rightfully deserving of all accolades heaped upon him.
Marshall broke a racial barrier and Bush 41 acknowledged that by nominating Thomas to replace him, but the left largely doesn’t see it that way.
Thomas was "the wrong kind of Black," meaning he was a conservative.
My biggest takeaway after viewing "Created Equal" was watching Justice Thomas frequently laugh and seeing how he spends his off time.
He doesn’t hopscotch all over the globe, yet instead jumps in an RV with his wife Virginia, and travels the U.S. while sharing good times with fellow mobile explorers.
To quote the John Mellencamp song "Pink Houses": "Ain’t that America."
Thank you Justice Thomas for your unflinching bravery and all you’ve done to serve our nation.
(Breaking Glass Pictures) (N/R)
Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national film industry media outlets and is based in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and is a regular contributor to the Shannon Burke Show on floridamanradio.com. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film-related articles and is one of the scant few conservative U.S. movie critics. Read Michael Clark's Reports — More Here.
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