WASHINGTON -- Clarence Thomas will not be a full-fledged, lifetime member of the U.S. Supreme Court until he goes through additional steps. Last night's confirmation by the Senate, required by the Constitution, was the first of four required steps.
A formal commission, signed by President Bush. That can be done any time after Senate approval.
Taking two formal oaths:
* The oath required by the Constitution, swearing to "support and defend the Constitution" and to "faithfully discharge the duties of the office." That oath will be given by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, with the other justices present.
If recent practice is followed, that oath will be taken at the White House as the first oath administered to Judge Thomas. It need not be done at the White House.
* An oath required by federal law, promising to "administer justice without respect to persons" and to "do equal right to the poor and to the rich," and vowing to "faithfully and impartially discharge" his judicial duties. That oath also will be given by Chief Justice Rehnquist.
That oath tentatively is to be given Monday morning at the court. Judge Thomas would first be seated in the courtroom, in the chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall -- brought out of storage for that purpose alone.
He then would be escorted to the center of the bench, to take the oath, and be seated -- at the far right end of the bench, as seen from the lawyers' and spectators' sections. He could then begin his duties.