Lightfoot refuses to apologize for obscene reference to Clarence Thomas, uses attack in last-minute fundraising appeal

“Clarence Thomas has proven himself over and over again — particularly in that concurring opinion — that he is somebody who doesn’t care or respect the rights of anyone except for himself,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday.

SHARE Lightfoot refuses to apologize for obscene reference to Clarence Thomas, uses attack in last-minute fundraising appeal
U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Robin Kelly listen as Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference Thursday morning at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center on the South Side.

U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Robin Kelly listen as Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference Thursday morning at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Not only is Mayor Lori Lightfoot refusing to apologize for her obscene reference to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, she’s using her vulgar remark to raise money and arguing that Thomas is such a “disgrace” to the nation’s highest court that he should resign.

“Clarence Thomas has proven himself over and over again — particularly in that concurring opinion — that he is somebody who doesn’t care or respect the rights of anyone except for himself,” the mayor said after accepting the endorsements of three members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

“And frankly, given what he and his wife have done in fomenting the insurrection of Jan. 6 is shameful. Frankly, what I’d like to see him do is step down from the Supreme Court.”

The mayor denied that her vulgar and bombastic rhetoric about a sitting Supreme Court justice was reminiscent of the political bullying she has long condemned by former President Donald Trump.

“I don’t think it’s being a bully. I think it’s speaking the truth. This is a guy who doesn’t care about women’s rights. This is a guy who is attacking affirmative action. … There was a recent article I read about him. He literally described himself as a termite. Somebody who is lurking in the basement eating away at the foundation of other peoples’ houses,” Lightfoot said.

“Think about that as somebody who is a Supreme Court justice who describes himself as somebody who is literally … laying in wait to destroy other peoples’ homes and foundations. No apologies about what I said about Clarence Thomas. It’s time in this country that we speak the truth about men in positions of power who are undermining our way of life. And he, to me, is Exhibit A of that.”

Six mayoral challengers have pounced on Lightfoot for making the obscene reference to Thomas during a Pride in the Park event last weekend in Grant Park.

“If you read Clarence Thomas’ concurrence,” a fired-up Lightfoot shouts from the stage.

Someone from the audience yells back at the mayor and Lightfoot says, “Thank you. F- - - Clarence Thomas.”

By late afternoon Monday, nearly a million people had viewed the video of the mayor, including six of the seven mayoral challengers. Some accused the mayor of “inciting people to mob action” by making a profane public reference to a sitting Supreme Court justice.

Lightfoot has defiantly refused to back down. On Monday night, she tweeted a photo of herself pointing toward an audience member’s T-shirt bearing the same profane statement. The post read, “I said what I said.”

She used the same, “I said what I said” headline in an email appeal for campaign contributions on Thursday, the final day of fundraising for the second quarter.

She reminded her supporters that Thomas argued in his concurring opinion that the Supreme Court “should reconsider its past rulings protecting contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.”

“That’s why, when someone in the crowd at an event this weekend yelled, ‘F**** Clarence Thomas,’ I yelled it right back. And I meant it,” the mayor wrote.

“Clarence Thomas wants to make women and members of the LGBTQ+ community second-class citizens. His beliefs are a direct attack on my personhood, and I will condemn them EVERY CHANCE I GET.”

She added, “I am the first openly gay mayor of Chicago. I am the second woman ever to hold this office. What makes me different from my predecessors is my strength and I will NOT remain silent in the face of ultra-conservative, right-wing attacks on my communities.”

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis speaks during a news conference Thursday morning at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center on the South Side, announcing he, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush are endorsing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s bid for a second term.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, along with Reps. Robin Kelly and Bobby Rush, on Thursday endorsed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s bid for a second term.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The mayor doubled down on her attack on Thomas during a news conference at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center called to accept endorsements from three sitting members of Congress: Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and Robin Kelly.

In March 2019, the now-retiring Rush warned during a campaign rally for then-mayoral challenger Toni Preckwinkle that the “blood of the next young Black man or Black woman” killed by police would be on the hands of Lightfoot’s supporters if the former police board president was elected mayor.

Lightfoot was livid. They didn’t speak for months. The mayor held a grudge against those elected officials who were on the podium with Rush at the Preckwinkle rally and did not immediately denounce his vitriolic and racially incendiary attack.

On June 11, 2020, all was forgiven. That’s when Lightfoot joined Rush in holding an extraordinary news conference to accuse more than a dozen Chicago police officers of lounging around in Rush’s burglarized campaign office in the same strip mall where vandals had a field day during the first of two devastating rounds of looting.

Seventeen officers and supervisors were subsequently slapped with suspensions ranging from one day to 20 days for allegedly sleeping on a couch, popping popcorn and drinking coffee in Rush’s office while mayhem raged around the city. Another officer got a written reprimand.


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