Two-thirds of Americans have no opinion on Thomas, poll says


WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court nominee Judge Clarence Thomas enjoys about equal support, and opposition, from whites and blacks, but two-thirds of the American people have no opinion on whether he should be confirmed, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows.

Among those with a view, twice as many say he should be confirmed as say he should be rejected.

Judge Thomas, who is black and has been opposed by most civil rights organizations, was supported by 23 percent of blacks and opposed by 15 percent.

Among whites, 26 percent favored confirmation and 10 percent did not. In the public generally, 24 percent favored confirmation; 11 percent did not.

But the reasons given varied sharply by race.

Many respondents gave only vague reasons, or none at all, but whites who supported him often cited President Bush's backing and Judge Thomas' conservatism and opposition to abortion and affirmative action.

Whites who opposed him cited his conservatism and stand on abortion.

Blacks who wanted him confirmed cited his race and his boyhood poverty, while blacks against him often focused on his opposition to affirmative action.

The 65 percent of respondents who had no opinion compares with the 73 percent who had no view on whether Judge Robert H. Bork should be confirmed four years ago on the eve of Senate hearings on his nomination. Judge Bork was ultimately rejected.

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