Clarence Thomas Might Finally Be Getting a Statue in Georgia

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas could still be honored with a statue in Georgia as Republicans in the state Senate reopened the topic this week.

An effort to erect a statue of the conservative justice and Georgia native was passed by state senators in a party-line vote in 2022 but the measure did not receive a vote in the state House because the legislature's term expired.

Republican state Senators Jason Anavitarte and Ben Watson revived the proposal, which would see a statue of Thomas installed on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

Clarence Thomas Speaks at the Heritage Foundation
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. Thomas could soon be honored with a statue in his native Georgia. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Watson represents the part of Georgia where Thomas is from—the latter was born in the town of Pin Point in the state's southeast and became the second Black justice to serve on the Supreme Court in 1991.

Supporting the installation of a statue of Thomas, Anavitarte said the justice "was determined not to allow his environment or the challenges the world imposed on him or his financial circumstances to dictate his American dream. That determination and resolve is worthy of recognition in the Capitol."

Former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, also expressed support for the idea, tweeting: "It's not controversial to honor the first black Supreme Court Justice from Georgia. RT if you agree: Justice Thomas deserves a statue at our state capitol!"

In February 2022, the state Senate approved the plan by a party line of 32 to 21 and the bill was reported favorably out of the House committee that reviewed it but the session of the Georgia General Assembly ended as the legislature's term expired, before the measure could be brought to a vote.

State Senator Anavitarte was the chief sponsor of the bill and he tweeted on July 1 that he planned to "continue to advocate and re-introduce legislation to have a statue of Justice Thomas on the grounds of the Georgia Capitol."

Republicans still control both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly in 2023. It is likely that the GOP-led Senate and House will approve the measure over the course of this year.

The idea of erecting a statue of Thomas faced significant criticism from Democrats in 2022 . They cited controversial decisions Thomas has made during his time on the Court. The 74-year-old justice is now the longest-serving current member of the Court and its most senior conservative.

"So you're talking about a state with a high number of African Americans and people of color, yet you want to erect a monument with a Supreme Court justice that has done everything in his power to dismantle voting rights for Black people and [is] against affirmative action. [...] It is insulting for him to gut the Voting Rights Act for his own people," Democratic state Senator Nikki Merritt said last year.

Some Democrats also cited Thomas' wife, attorney and conservative activist Ginni Thomas, the center of controversy because of conversations she had with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks following the 2020 election in which she encouraged him to continue efforts to challenge the results.

Newsweek has reached out to Senator Jason Anavitarte for comment.