Clarence Thomas documentary removed by Amazon during Black History Month

Clarence Thomas is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was nominated by President George H. W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate. He is the second African American to serve on the Court. He is one of the Court's most conservative members.

(by Mark Paoletta) …Amazon Prime dropped Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words, an acclaimed and popular PBS documentary on Justice Clarence Thomas, making it unavailable to stream during Black History Month.  Thomas is our nation’s only black justice currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court….

Before dropping Justice Thomas’ documentary, Amazon Prime created an entire Amplify Black Voices page on its site that “feature[s] a curated collection of titles to honor Black History Month across four weekly themes (Black Love, Black Joy, Black History Makers, and Black Girl Magic).”

There are scores of films available to stream on Amazon Prime’s Amplify Black Voices page, including four – two docudramas and two documentaries – on Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, a liberal icon and our nation’s first black Supreme Court justice.  …

Justice Thomas’ Created Equal DVD is still available for purchase on Amazon, and it is [currently] number 38 of all documentaries on that site [but no longer available for streaming].  In contrast, the RBG documentary on liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not even in the top 100 but is still streaming on Amazon Prime.

Created Equal was nationally broadcast on PBS last April and has a 99 percent audience approval rating on the popular movie rating website Rotten Tomatoes.  Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post, wrote, “It is a marvel of filmmaking that two hours pass so quickly. At the end of a screening I recently attended, there weren’t many dry eyes in the room.”  She added, “Thomas is an American hero.”  On the Amazon website, the film has received a 4.9 star rating (out of 5 stars) from customer reviews…

According to news reports, Amazon has been taking down long-running documentaries from its site with little or no warning, and apparently it is almost impossible to receive a response as to why a documentary was taken down.  And there may be some so-called liberal documentaries that have been taken down during this period.  But it is very strange that Amazon [stopped streaming] a documentary on our longest-serving black Supreme Court justice in American history that ran on PBS in a national broadcast (no small feat) and is a top-selling DVD in its documentary section, while less popular documentaries on Justice Marshall are still streaming.

[Filmmaker Michael Pack told the Wall Street Journal that he was never offered an explanation as to why Amazon removed it.  “Our distributor, who’s the one who made the deal with Amazon, has repeatedly asked them for explanations but they haven’t given any,” Pack told the Journal].

Justice Thomas’s incredible story is one that every American should know – and in particular, every black American.  He was born in 1948 in deep poverty in the Deep South of segregated Georgia, living from birth under Jim Crow laws. His parents had almost no education, and his father left the family before he was two. Thomas’s life changed when he was 7 years old, when he and his younger brother went to live with his grandparents.

Despite being uneducated, his grandfather built a small business delivering oil, coal, firewood, and ice in Savannah.  His grandfather was tough on Thomas and his younger brother, but they learned the values of hard work and perseverance.  Thomas’s grandfather always said, “Old Man Can’t is dead.  I helped bury him.”

After being taught by Irish nuns in a segregated Catholic school and attending seminary for high school, Thomas broke away from the values his grandfather and the nuns instilled in him and rejected his Catholic faith, embracing the idea of the Black Panthers and radical left in the late 1960s.  As Thomas wrote in his must-read and gripping memoirs My Grandfather’s Son, “[T]he more I read about the black power movement, the more I wanted to be part of it.  What was the point of working within the system?  Segregation, lynchings, black codes, slavery… Surely the time for politeness and nonviolent protest was over.”

Thomas came to reject that path, embracing a view that believed in individual rights, not group rights. Thomas believes that our most important principle is found in the Declaration of Independence: “All Men are Created Equal.”

In his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, Thomas has developed the most comprehensive and consistent originalist jurisprudence of any justice to serve on the Court.

  • Leftwing legal writer Ian Millhiser wrote in 2018 that Thomas is “the most important legal thinker of his generation and the most significant appointment of the last forty years.”
  • One well-regarded Supreme Court practitioner who founded the prominent SCOTUSblog noted that Thomas is “our greatest Justice.”
  • CBS Supreme Court reporter Jan Crawford proved, based on internal Court documents, that Thomas was a force from the very first day he sat on the Court, pulling the Court in his direction.
[The idea that black Americans can’t hold conservative political beliefs] led the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum in 2016 to exclude any exhibit on Justice Thomas in its first year of existence, despite Thomas being the second and longest-serving black Supreme Court justice in history. [The museum] only begrudgingly added a section that still is unfair to the justice.

In a conversation a few years ago where [the writer of this article] was present, Thomas … noted that everyone would agree that if a black man were barred from entering a library because of the color of his skin, that would universally and rightly be regarded as racist, but the left is fine with telling that same black man he can enter that library but he can never be allowed to agree with the content of certain books because of the color of his skin. …

More than twenty years ago and despite efforts to prevent him from speaking, Thomas spoke at the National Bar Association, the nation’s premier law association for black lawyers…[He said in part]:

I have come here today not in anger or to anger, though my mere presence has been sufficient, obviously, to anger some. Nor have I come to defend my views, but rather to assert my right to think for myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me as though I was an intellectual slave because I’m black. I come to state that I’m a man, free to think for myself and do as I please. I’ve come to assert that I am a judge and I will not be consigned the unquestioned opinions of others.

But even more than that, I have come to say that isn’t it time to move on? Isn’t it time to realize that being angry with me solves no problems?

Isn’t it time to acknowledge that the problem of race has defied simple solutions and that not one of us, not a single one of us can lay claim to the solution?

Isn’t it time that we respect ourselves and each other as we have demanded respect from others?

Isn’t it time to ignore those whose sole occupation is sowing seeds of discord and animus? That is self-hatred.

Isn’t it time to continue diligently to search for lasting solutions?

I believe that the time has come today.

God bless each of you, and may God keep you.

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words covers Thomas’s life story in a one-on-one interview with Thomas that is unprecedented in Supreme Court history. …

The above is excerpted from an article by Mark Paoletta posted at Breitbart News. Mr. Paoletta served as a lawyer in the George HW Bush White House Counsel’s Office and worked on the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas.  He served as General Counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget in the Trump Administration, and worked on the confirmations of Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. 


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. a) For how long has Clarence Thomas served as a Supreme Court Justice?
b) Justice Thomas is only the second black justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. What is significant about his tenure?

3. What type of ratings did the documentary “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” receive?

4. For what reason did Amazon remove Clarence Thomas’ documentary from their streaming service?

5. Justice Thomas is an originalist – a judge who interprets the law as written; originalists (also called constitutionalists) determine what the original intent was when the founders wrote the Constitution.
Republicans generally appoint originalists. Conservatives support this judicial philosophy.
In contrast, Democrats generally appoint activist judges. Liberals/progressives support this judicial philosophy. Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg was an activist justice. Black’s Law Dictionary defines judicial activism as a “philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions.”
Why do you think Amazon removed the documentary of Justice Thomas “In his own words” from their streaming service?

6. Mark Paoletta notes: “This is a film that should be widely streamed by Amazon at all times – and particularly during Black History Month – to show the diversity of thought in the black community and to celebrate Thomas’s amazing life journey. Amazon does a great disservice to all Americans, and particularly black Americans, when it decides not to show an inspiring film about an incredible Black American during Black History Month.” Do you agree or disagree with this assertion? Explain your answer.

CHALLENGE: Find a way to watch ”Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.” What is your opinion of Justice Thomas’ life story?


Read a Jan.2020 interview with filmmaker Michael Pack.

Read Justice Thomas’ autobiography “My Grandfather’s Son” published by HarperCollins.

Watch a 2018 interview with Justice Clarence Thomas at youtube.


The documentary film “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas In His Own Words” was first shown in late 2019 and then on PBS in mid-2020.

Watch the movie trailer:


Watch a three-minute excerpted section from the movie:

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