Criminal Defendant Who Clarence Thomas Raised ‘As A Son’ Says He’s Been Put Out Of Their Lives

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Long before Supreme Court shucker and jiver Clarence Thomas voted to strike down the same affirmative action in college admissions that put him through law school and then later declared that the Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated schools was also wrong, he and his wife, Ginni, raised the Black grandson of Thomas’s sister Emma Mae Martin. In that role, they allowed a white billionaire Republican donor to pay  the private school tuition of the Black boy Thomas once claimed he raised as a “son.” By that standard of course, affirmative action (or its equivalent) isn’t wrong. You just need to have the right white wealthy to say okay to one. 

Now, 32-year-old Mark Martin is awaiting trial on drug and weapons charges after he was arrested last summer. He faces up to 25-plus years behind bars, and told Business Insider from his jail cell that his adoptive parents, the Thomases, want nothing to do with him and had washed their hands of him long ago.

“I haven’t really heard much from them in a long time,” Martin said. “I tried to communicate with them a couple of times, but I’ve never gotten any response.”

In 2007, when Marin was 16, Thomas proudly boasted about him and Ginni raising his grand nephew “as a son” during an interview with C-Span.

“For me, in so many ways, it’s rewarding because it’s brought me, again, full circle,” Thomas said. “I was about the age my grandfather was when he took my brother and me. And Mark was about the age my brother and I were when he took us in.”

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But a parent who has disowned their child is a failed parent, not a proud one, and, at any rate, Thomas and his wife appear to have, possibly intentionally, kept their ties to Martin out of public knowledge until relatively recently. Maybe it’s because they are ashamed that the “son” they raised from age six to 19 turned out to be an alleged criminal, or maybe it’s because of who footed the bill for Martin’s pre-collegiate education—Harland Crow. 

As many of you know, last year, it was revealed that, for decades Thomas accepted free luxury vacations from Crow, the Republican billionaire. Thomas has a history of receiving gifts from Crow which has made the “Justice” the target of investigations of ethics violation. Ethics in law experts said that his failure to include these trips on his financial disclosures appears to “violate a law requiring justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts,” according to an investigative report by ProPublica. In fact, Thomas didn’t really start to disclose these luxury gifts until he was publicly shamed into doing so after the news of his relationship with Crow went viral, and, as it turns out, the money spent on Martin’s tuition also went undisclosed.

“I guess they looked into Randolph-Macon Academy because Harlan Crow actually graduated from there, so I guess that was behind their decision to send me there—and then apparently he helped finance the HLA trip, too,” Martin told Business Insider. (Again, legacy admissions should be included under affirmative action, but it’s just not.)

This is as good a time as any to point out that Fox News recently tried to deflect from Thomas’ alleged ethics violations by reporting that Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson received Beyoncé concert tickets valued at $3,700, among other gifts, despite the fact that those gifts were disclosed. (Fox News literally only knew about them because the “disclosures were part of an annual filing deadline for the justices, which all met except for Samuel Alito who asked for an extension.”)

Anyway, Martin said he enjoyed a privileged childhood, during which he was afforded the luxury of traveling to more than 20 countries and spending summers waterskiing and doing other activities that are common for wealthy people. He also said he remembers babysitting Crow’s son when their families went on vacation together. But Martin said that all changed when he began high school, which is when he claims Clarence and Ginni “just didn’t have time to deal with” him anymore and sent him away to boarding schools. He also said he was expelled from Randolph-Macon Academy after his junior year for failing a drug test, That was when the Thomases sent him back to his mother’s house in Georgia. He said he has rarely heard from either of them since.