How Justice Thomas’s ‘Nearly Adopted Daughter’ Became His Law Clerk

The email went out to members of Justice Clarence Thomas’s law clerk network late last month celebrating his newest addition to an exclusive club. The justice’s selection needed no introduction.

“Crystal Clanton’s clerkship for OT ’24 was announced by Scalia Law today!” wrote an assistant to Virginia Thomas, the justice’s wife, who is known as Ginni. The email referred to the 2024 October term of the court, and the tone was jubilant: “Please take a look at these posts of congratulations and support. Consider reposting, replying or adding your own!”

The Thomases and Ms. Clanton, a 29-year-old conservative organizer turned lawyer, have built such a close relationship that the couple informally refer to her as their “nearly adopted daughter.” Ms. Clanton, who was previously accused of sending racist text messages, including one that read “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE,” has lived in the Thomas home, assisted Ms. Thomas in her political consulting business and joined her in a “girls trip” to New York.

In 2019, at the Thomases’ urging, Ms. Clanton enrolled at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Virginia, where Justice Thomas has taught. She received a full merit scholarship, according to another judge who later hired her.

Her upcoming Supreme Court clerkship, one of the most coveted jobs in the American legal profession, is the latest triumph in her redemption from a highly publicized 2017 controversy over the racist messages. The blowup led to her departure from a group she helped build, Turning Point USA, which seeks to increase the influence of conservative students on college campuses across the country.

A page from the Thomases’ 2022 newsletter.Credit…The New York Times
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