JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS (Photo: U.S. Supreme Court)
(CNN) — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the high court’s only African American jurist, opened up recently about his thoughts on race and the White House.
Asked if he ever expected to see an African American president in his lifetime, the conservative justice said he always knew “it would have to be a Black president who was approved by the elites and the media, because anybody that they didn’t agree with, they would take apart.”
“And that will happen with virtually – you pick your person, any Black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a Black person will be picked apart,” he said in an April interview at Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, which aired on C-SPAN.
“You can pick anybody, don’t pick me, pick anyone who has decided not to go along with it; there’s a price to pay,” he continued. “So, I always assumed it would be somebody the media had to agree with.”
Thomas didn’t mention President Obama specifically in his comments. Asked if he had met the 44th president, Thomas said the two have only met in passing.
“I don’t do a lot of Washington and I’m not into politics, so I mean there’s not that many occasion,” he said, adding that they once shook hands at an inauguration to be polite. “But I’ve had no in-depth conversation.”
Thomas is known for staying largely silent on the bench and has rarely commented on cases during his time in the high court.
“One thing I’ve demonstrated often in 16 years is you can do this job without asking a single question,” he recalled in a speech five years ago.
CNN’s Ashley Killough and Bill Mears contributed to this report.