Mark Paoletta, an attorney who served as Assistant Counsel to President George H.W. Bush and played a key role in the confirmation of Thomas, became a close friend of the justice over time. Over the past three decades, they’ve vacationed together with their families and made frequent road trips to visit a New Jersey nursing home where the Irish nuns who taught Thomas discipline at the segregated, all-Black Catholic parochial school resided later in life The two speak on a regular basis to this day.
The friendship eventually resulted in Paoletta co-writing a new book, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” that provides a unique look at one of the most polarizing people in America.
“I was fed up with the continual attacks from Hollywood and other places on Justice Thomas, who I think is our greatest living American and our greatest justice,” Paoletta told Fox News Digital. “One of the things in the book that you really get a flavor of is Justice Thomas’s strong disagreement with, kind of the left, and their liberal policies and their tactics.”
It all started when Paoletta, seeking to tell the true story of his friend, was introduced to documentary filmmaker Michael Pack, who was interested in making a film about Thomas. But instead of a traditional documentary that presents both sides of an issue or story, Pack wanted to have Thomas tell his own life story, so Paoletta set out to convince his longtime friend to sit down for a conversation.
“Justice Thomas is never interested in defending his reputation or himself,” he said. “Ultimately, [he] agreed to be interviewed.”
The two ended up speaking for 25 hours over several sessions, usually getting together in the early morning and chatting until lunchtime with Paoletta along for the ride.
“Just like anything Justice Thomas does, when he makes a commitment, he’s going to see it through,” Paoletta said, noting that turning all that content from a Supreme Court Justice who rarely speaks to the media into a two-hour film was quite difficult.
“You have this 25 hours of Clarence Thomas on, you know, talking to Michael Pack about his life, about his journey, about his, you know, his jurisprudence, his thoughts and to make the movie and see all that cut away — I was there for those interviews. You know, I saw these exchanges that I thought were gold, that would be great in the movie,” Paoletta said. “With two hours and having to tell all parts of his life, you know, you’re going to have to cut out a lot of discussion. So the idea was, let’s package this up into a book in order to get a lot more of that interview.”
Pack’s award-winning film “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” was released in 2020. With the majority of Thomas’ unprecedented sit-downs with Pack left on the cutting-room floor, Paoletta and the filmmaker needed to get creative or else the never-before-seen footage would have gone to waste.
Paoletta and Pack decided to co-author a book by the same title, and over 95% of the book’s material was not in the documentary.
“The most surprising thing [to] most readers, I think people who are unfamiliar with Justice Thomas, is what a warm and joyful person he is and how he is so loyal to the people who helped him and how helpful he is to other people,” Paoletta said.
The book version of “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” hit stores on June 21, three days before the landmark ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Thomas joined Justices Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito in overturning Roe v. Wade in their decision affirming Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the majority in upholding the Mississippi law but didn’t concur with overturning the Roe decision. The polarizing decision whipped critics of Thomas into a frenzy, putting the justice firmly in the national zeitgeist as he was praised by conservatives and condemned by the left.
Paoletta believes the left has been “trying to take down Justice Thomas since the day he came to Washington,” and the liberal elite has attempted to “marginalize him” for standing up for what he believes. He said Dobbs is simply the latest in a long line of decisions the justice has made that irked liberals, but anyone paying attention shouldn’t have been surprised.
“Justice Thomas, who has never bowed to their assault, is at the zenith of his influence of any justice, really. And, you know, we see at the end of this term on all the opinions that have just come down, obviously, the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade. Justice Thomas has been writing on overturning Roe v Wade since 1992. So, for 30 years he’s been writing that this should be overturned,” Paoletta said.
In recent days, Thomas has been mocked as “Uncle Clarence” by Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson, shock jock Howard Stern called Thomas a “lightweight” who was “sitting there like Darth Vader, dormant, waiting for other kooks to join the Supreme Court” and almost every liberal cable news pundit has taken their shot. “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg even berated Thomas’ concurring opinion and suggested the GOP might “come for” him and his interracial marriage. The recent examples back up a claim Thomas has made for years.
“In the movie and then more in the book, Justice Thomas talks about how the biggest, sort of, the most intolerant people he ever met, and in fact, racist, was the modern day liberal,” Paoletta said. “He talks about how the left, or liberals, have result-oriented judging, that they don’t care about the process. They want to just get to a certain result. And so that’s what comes through in the book.”
But according to Paoletta, part of Thomas’ legacy is that he angers people by daring to think for himself.
“I think he is going to be considered one of our greatest justices. And he’s an originalist who had the courage to apply the Constitution and be faithful to the Constitution into the text of statute come what may. And that’s what triggers the left, is that he is a Black conservative who dares to have his own thoughts, and that’s what drives the left crazy and enrages them,” Paoletta said. “His legacy is a courageous justice who faithfully applied the Constitution and faithfully applied, you know, statutes and recognized his role in our constitutional system, which is the greatest respect you can give to the Constitution in our structure of government.”
Paoletta, said Thomas is “doing fine” since the Dobbs decision, and he couldn’t care less about attacks from the left.
“He’s not looking for affirmation from these people. They’re the same people that tried to destroy him, that lied about him, that distorted his life. So why would you care about them? And so he has his friends, he has his family. He has, you know, his wife and his faith. And he’s doing great,” Paoletta said. “He’s our most influential justice, and he’s just had this amazing American life.”