WASHINGTON -- Opposition to Clarence Thomas' nomination to succeed Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court got a boost when the NAACP and AFL-CIO said they would fight the nomination.
The board of directors of the NAACP, the nation's largest civil rights organization, voted 49-1 yesterday to urge senators to reject Thomas' nomination, saying that he approaches critical issues with a "reactionary" philosophy that would be harmful to blacks.
Because the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's move is expected to galvanize opposition to Thomas, it increases the possibility that he cannot be confirmed without a battle similar to the 1987 confrontation that defeated Robert Bork.
But Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., Thomas' most visible supporter in Congress, predicted that the federal judge would be confirmed. "No interest group, no matter how esteemed it is, is going to be given veto power," he said.
NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks said that, regardless of Thomas' race, the group was prepared to launch a "full-court press" against his nomination because of his controversial positions on civil rights, workplace discrimination and other issues.
NAACP Board Chairman William Gibson said:
"While we appreciate the fact that Judge Thomas came up in the school of hard knocks and pulled himself up by his own bootstraps . . . we are concerned about his insensitivity to giving those who may not have any bootstraps the opportunity to pull . . . themselves up as well."
AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland said President Bush apparently is attempting to make the Supreme Court "the preserve of the far right wing," and therefore left the labor group no other choice but to appose him.