- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2020

The director of a wide-ranging new documentary about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says his film isn’t just for conservatives, just as a 2018 movie about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasn’t just for liberals.

“Lots of conservatives went to see ‘RGB,’” said Michael Pack, referring to the Justice Ginsburg documentary. “And lots of liberals should go see ‘Created Equal.’”

“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” opens Friday in a limited run in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

It follows the conservative justice’s evolution from his impoverished youth in Pin Point, Georgia; to his days as a liberal radical in college in the 1970s to his legal career in the Reagan administration, which culminated with his nomination to take Justice Thurgood Marshall’s place on the Supreme Court in a contentious 1991 Senate confirmation hearing.

The documentary generated headlines months ago when news broke that Justice Thomas took a stab at liberal critics who nearly sidelined his nomination with allegations that he sexually harassment former colleague Anita Hill. Ms. Hill came forward with her claim and testified against him in 1991.

“I felt as though in my life I had been looking at the wrong people as the people who would be problematic toward me. We were told that, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be the bigot in the pickup truck. It’s gonna be the Klansmen. It’s gonna be the rural sheriff,’” Justice Thomas says in the film. “But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately, the biggest impediment was the modern day liberal.”

The documentary, compiled from 30 hours of interviews with the justice and his wife, Virginia Thomas, provides a rare opportunity to see Justice Thomas talk frankly and even humorously about his Catholic faith.

“I learned that many of these myths about Justice Thomas — that he doesn’t like to talk, that he’s not friendly, that he’s not smart — those myths are totally false,” Mr. Park said. “No one who knows him, whatever their politics, would say that.”

Reviews have been fairly positive, with The New York Times calling “Created Equal” an “upbeat” film and a “novelty” to hear the 71-year-old justice. National Review called the film a “measure of long-delayed redress” for the reputation of the nation’s second black Supreme Court justice.

The impetus for reputation-building was not lost on Mr. Pack and his creative partner and wife, Gina Cappo, when they started filming three years ago.

“We had heard through mutual friends that he was getting dissatisfied with having enemies define his legacy,” Mr. Pack said in an interview, adding that “half-truths and misinformation” had been spread about him.

Justice Thomas himself has told his story in his 2007 memoir “My Grandfather’s Son,” noting the influence of his stern, devout grandfather; the Irish nuns who ran the Catholic school he attended; and the College of the Holy Cross and Yale Law School, where he matriculated.

In the 1970s, he was a registered Democrat and political libertarian, but his political philosophy began to change he went to work for Missouri Attorney General John Danforth, the justice said in his memoir.

“The hardest part about taking the job was he was a Republican,” Justice Thomas says in the documentary. “And the idea of working for a Republican was repulsive at best.”

During his work on criminal matters in Missouri, his thinking began to evolve about issues of black-on-black crime. His skepticism the welfare state deepened.

Always, Justice Thomas returns to his faith, which Mr. Park highlights throughout the film.

“I do not think he is bitter,” said Mr. Park, noting that Justice Thomas prays daily for humility. “I think his faith has enabled him to get through that.”

Mr. Park describes himself as a political conservative and has a record of making historical documentaries on a variety of subjects including George Washington and American nuclear submarine admiral.

He says his film is a deliberate effort to broaden the documentary genre, which he says too often embraces a liberal perspective.

He urges conservatives to go see his film.

“You can’t complain about [the] lack of viewpoint diversity if you don’t go when there’s an opportunity to help the conservative end of the spectrum,” Mr. Park said.

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