(AP photo. Obama and Warren)
Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)--the first African American with a chance of becoming president--said Saturday he would not have appointed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas--the second black on the nation's highest court.
"I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas," Obama said in response to a question from Saddleback Church Pastor Rich Warren about which existing justice he would not have nominated. "I don't think he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation."
Obama and rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) are making back-to-back appearances at Saddleback, in Lake Forest, Calif. for questioning by one of the country's most famous evangelists.
Obama--who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago--also said he would not have appointed Justice Antonin Scalia "because he and I just disagree." Obama noted that Scalia also was at the U of C. Scalia was a professor of law there from 1977 to 1982.
Thomas is the only African American on the Supreme Court at present and only the second to serve (the first African American was Justice Thurgood Marshall). He was nominated by President George H.W. Bush--the father of the current president--and is know as one of the courts most conservative members.
Official Thomas Biography
Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice, was born in the Pin Point community of Georgia
near Savannah June 23, 1948. He married Virginia Lamp in 1987 and has one child, Jamal Adeen, by a previous marriage. He attended Conception Seminary and received an A.B., cum laude, from Holy Cross College, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1974. He was admitted to law practice in Missouri in 1974, and served as an Assistant Attorney General of Missouri from 1974-1977, an attorney with the Monsanto Company from 1977-1979, and
Legislative Assistant to Senator John Danforth from 1979-1981. From 1981-1982, he
served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, and as
Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1982-1990. He
became a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
in 1990. President Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat October 23, 1991.